ICAO recommends 15-minute aircraft tracking standard

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Image: © iStock | shaunl

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has formally recommended adopting a new 15-minute standard for aircraft tracking to prevent the reoccurrence of lost commercial jetliners, like the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines MH370.

Recommended at a high-level safety conference in Montreal, the new standard is now with member states for formal comment and adoption may be as early as September.

‘This new standard will be an important first step in providing a foundation for global flight tracking and the future implementation of the more comprehensive ICAO Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS),’ said ICAO Council President Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu.

ICAO’s recommended standard is performance-based and not prescriptive— meaning that global airlines would be able to meet it using the available and planned technologies and procedures they deem suitable.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) backed the move by ICAO, with its Director General and CEO, Tony Tyler, stating: ‘This will continue the industry’s successful record of working with governments to improve safety through global harmonisation. We are all moving in the same direction. The conference conclusions should be a reassurance to all travellers that safety is always aviation’s top priority.’

The move comes after the Aircraft Tracking Task Force (ATTF)—established by IATA in the aftermath of MH370—submitted its findings to ICAO in December. Part of this report noted that tracking over remote and oceanic airspace could be achieved through existing means of reporting and that new space-based technologies may play a key role in future.

As Flight Safety Australia reported last year, space-based tracking using the automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B) system promises to be an effective and efficient way to standardise aircraft tracking in the future. Most high-capacity jetliners already use the system and it will become mandatory over the next 10 years.

The shift to more frequent reporting of the aircraft’s position will help to refine the potential search and rescue (SAR) area if an aircraft does disappear.

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