February 3, 2015

ICAO proposes target schedule for tracking upgrades, distress systems & recorders

Three weeks after Airbus began discussions with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) regulators over deployment of ejectable flight data recorders, the International Civil Aviation Organization has proposed the implementation of a number of measures to ensure that by the end of 2016, airlines are able to locate all aircraft, even over major expanses of water, through a combination of normal tracking, distress tracking and new data recorder standards. The news was announced at the High Level Safety Conference in Montreal this week with member states discussing appropriate solutions.
Analyses gathered from several working groups indicates the possibility of advanced implementation of normal tracking procedures by Aug. 31st. This tracking would involve the transmission of position reports from aircraft every 15 minutes and at shorter intervals if the aircraft was in oceanic airspace. This would only apply to aircraft weighing in excess of 27,000 kg and with 20 seats or more. Initial plans will see letters sent to member states by March, the adoption of the new standards by November, and these standards becoming “applicable” one year later in November 2016.
Where distress tracking is concerned, an aircraft would send out higher rate data once a problem had been detected on board with the intention of facilitating the location of an aircraft to within a distance of six nautical miles. The ICAO has indicated they would like to see this capability incorporated in new aircraft from 2021.
An ICAO working group has proposed automatically deployable flight recorders as an alternative method for rapidly locating a crashed aircraft and retrieving essential data. The likelihood is this would be recommended for new aircraft by 2019 and a prerequisite for new aircraft by 2021. Operators would be given the opportunity of using alternative technology to locate an accident site, again within six nautical miles, as an option on all aircraft from 2016 as an inducement to adopt the policy early on.

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