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Planes may have to report positions every 15 min

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Rule could be effective soon as no new technology is needed

The United Nations aviation agency ICAO looks set to propose a new standard requiring commercial aircraft to report their position every 15 minutes. The move is part of a global tracking initiative following the disappearance of MH370 last March.

The still unsolved vanishing has prompted a global push for a system to make it possible to pinpoint the exact route and last location of an aircraft.

A spokesperson for ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) says that if the standard is adopted it could go into effect in the near term, as it would not require new technology on planes. ICAO members are set to discuss the proposal at a conference in Montreal next month.

Meanwhile, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has promised to lead an industry taskforce on the matter to voluntarily improve tracking. The taskforce recommended last month that airlines start tracking planes with 15-minute intervals within 12 months, though IATA said this deadline was not practical.

“If [member states] agree to the standard, the safety conference will also be asked how quickly it expects it to be implemented and if it would want ICAO to expedite that process,” an ICAO spokesperson told Reuters news agency. “Once our states have made their views known in that regard we’ll have a better idea of the timeframe.”

ICAO could effectively force airlines to act because the standards it sets typically become regulatory requirements in its 191 member states. However, it prefers to make decisions by consensus, which will make February’s conference crucial to the process.

TTG Digital / Reuters

[image courtesy NATS]

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