Montreal (AFP) -Minute-by-minute tracking of aircraft in distress is set to be introduced next year, airline officials said Wednesday, as the industry aims to prevent a repeat of the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370
An international aviation summit in Montreal gave strong backing to plans to monitor flights in real time, making it easier to pinpoint the location of planes lost at sea.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Council is now expected to ratify the proposal in November, making it obligatory for all airlines starting in 2016.
“Global tracking will not prevent accidents,” said ICAO chairman Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, but it will mean no more lost jets.
The plan was prompted by the disappearance of flight MH370 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in what remains one of history’s great aviation mysteries.
The aircraft, with 239 people on board, has never been found, nearly a year on.
Currently, radar can track a plane but coverage is spotty and fades when aircraft are out at sea or they are flying below a certain altitude.
Under the new rules, airlines will be required to track their aircraft using a system that routinely gives their location at 15-minute intervals.
“When an airplane is in distress, the system will repeat the signal every minute,” Aliu told a press conference. This would include any unexpected change in altitude or deviation from a flight path.
Thus, search and rescue officials would be able to more accurately pinpoint a flight’s last known location within six nautical miles (11 kilometres).