Less than a year after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, ICAO has recommended adopting a new aircraft tracking standard for airlines with automated position updates every 15min.

The recommendation made on 3 February at the UN aviation body’s High Level Safety Conference in Montreal could become effective this fall using an “expedited” approval process, says Olumuyiwa Aliu, president of the ICAO Council.

The standard is the first regulatory response at an international level to prevent airliners from vanishing completely and reducing the search area over water and remote areas.

Some airlines voluntarily transmit updated position reports using the aircraft communications addressing and reporting system (ACARS) or other channels, but they are not mandated and there is no standard for the interval of the transmission.

Setting the new standard at 15min reduces the search area to about 100nm for an aircraft cruising at a normal speed of 470kt.

It follows ICAO’s adoption last year of a global aeronautical distress and safety system (GDASS) for aircraft, which is modeled on a similar concept used by the commercial shipping industry.

The new standard covers tracking in normal flight conditions, but follow-on ICAO standards could mandate reporting systems for abnormal and distress events.

The latter two standards “require more time due to their complexity and potential reliance on new technologies”, the ICAO says.

The search for Malaysia Airlines flight 370 continues nearly 11 months after it vanished on 8 March. It also took nearly two years to locate and raise the flight data recorders of Air France flight 447, which disappeared en route to Paris in 2009.

Source: Cirium Dashboard