March 2, 2015
Three countries to trial improvements to flight tracking a year after flight MH370 disappearance
Three countries have announced plans to trial a new means of enabling air traffic controllers to more easily follow planes travelling over large expanses of water, such as the Indian Ocean, which is believed to be the final resting place of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370. The news comes at an awkward time for the relatives of those victims on board that flight as Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss has told Reuters that the search will have to end in May and any decision what to do after then will be made well in advance. The search has so far cost an estimated AU$52m (US$40.5m), a cost shared equally between Australia and Malaysia, but Truss has indicated that unless there is additional foreign financial aid, the search just cannot be carried on indefinitely. “For many of the families on board, they won’t have closure unless they have certain knowledge that the aircraft has been located and perhaps their loved ones’ remains have been recovered,” Truss said, continuing: “We clearly cannot keep searching forever, but we want to do everything that’s reasonably possible to locate the aircraft.”
Under the new system being trialed by Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia, long-haul aircraft would be expected to check in every 15 minutes as opposed to every 30-40 minutes, as is the current requirement. In an area covering approximately 11% of the world’s surface, long-haul flights will participate in the test. In this regard, Truss made it clear in a media release that the new system, which is based on adapting some of the current technology used on board jets, was capable of substantially narrowing search areas in the event of any future disappearance of a long-haul flight. “This new approach enables immediate improvements to monitoring long-haul flights and will give the public greater confidence in aviation, without requiring any additional technology investment by airlines,” confirmed Truss.