World agrees to new aircraft tracking system

The global member states of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) have agreed on a new system for the tracking of commercial aircraft.

The recommendation, which was decided following discussions by more than 850 delegates at the UN aviation body’s 2015 High Level Safety Conference, will require aircraft to report their positions every 15 minutes. This applies to remote areas which are not covered by air traffic control.

The new system applies to remote areas not covered by air traffic control
The new system applies to remote areas not covered by air traffic control

“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 & Safety System (GADSS),” said ICAO council president, Dr Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu.

“Through an expedited process, it will now be sent to our member states before the end of the month for formal comment and we’re anticipating its adoption by council as early as this fall.”

The new GADSS concept was developed by ICAO in 2014, following the disappearance of flight MH370. It calls for a three-tiered approach for global aircraft tracking over the long-term, covering “normal, abnormal and distress conditions”.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) welcomed the ICEO recommendation.

“This will continue the industry’s successful record of working with governments to improve safety through global harmonisation,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s director general & CEO. “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 majority of aircraft are already equipped with the capability to meet the new tracking standards, and the ICAO recommendation “will permit airlines to use new and existing technologies for aircraft tracking”.

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