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APRIL 2017

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Asia is early adopter of tracking rules

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by TOM BALLANTYNE 

April 1st 2017

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Global aviation learnt harsh lessons from the tragic loss of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 three years ago. The still unsolved disappearance of the aircraft and its 239 passengers and crew is a stark reminder that airlines and the systems that allow them to fly across the world needed an regulatory overhaul. Read More »

As a direct result of the MH370 loss, the industry looked again at its rules for monitoring airlines as they flew. With the support of the International Air Transport Association, airlines and manufacturers, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has set new rules for the tracking of the world’s airline fleet.

From November next year, all aircraft, wherever they are flying, must be tracked every 15 minutes.

In addition, from January 2021, all commercial airlines must have systems on their fleets that will autonomously transmit an aircraft’s position at least once a minute if it is in distress.

Asia-Pacific’s major airlines already have, or will easily beat, that deadline. Some smaller airlines have yet to install the upgraded tracking equipment, but there is no reason for alarm. They are not operating long-haul routes over remote oceanic spaces.

Service providers also have acted quickly. Dozens of satellites, launched by giant satellite conglomerates such as Iridium, are circling the planet and offer upgraded tracking systems to airlines that need improved monitoring equipment.

Tracking systems from companies such as Aireon, Rockwell Collins, Arinc and SITA, to name a few, recognize that some airlines will struggle to meet the costs of adhering to the new ICAO regulations and are putting together cost effective packages.

A study released at the CANSO ATM conference in Madrid last month revealed more precise airline tracking, coupled with improved satellite communication (satcom), has benefitted the global airline bottom line to the tune of US$3 billion in the last 15 years.

So, better tracking will not only mean safer flying for all, but cheaper flying for airlines.

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