Aircraft will have to report their location every 15 minutes under a proposal from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).
The ICAO recommendation, made at a meeting of its member states in Montreal on Wednesday, follows the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in March 2014. The aircraft that operated the flight, a Boeing 777-200ER with registration 9M-MRO, is yet to be found.
ICAO said the recommendation was “performance-based and not prescriptive”, meaning airlines would be able used any available and planned technologies they believed was suitable to meet the 15-minute reporting standard.
ICAO Council President Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu said the new standard was an “an important first step in providing a foundation for global flight tracking”.
“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,” Aliu said in a statement.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents airlines around the world, said it supported the move.
IATA chief executive Tony Tyler said the ICAO recommendations was “a reassurance to all travellers that safety is always aviation’s top priority” and noted many airlines were already tracking their aircraft.
“We welcome this initiative to implement a performance-based standard that will permit airlines to use new and existing technologies for aircraft tracking,” Tyler said in a statement.
“Through a combined effort of all stakeholders we can reach performance-based provisions that are founded on proper research and operational experience.
“We look forward to working with ICAO in the pursuit of effective and sustainable solutions that do not create unnecessary redundancy nor have unintended impacts on safety.”
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which is leading the search for the missing MH370 in the Indian Ocean, said on February 4 some 21,000 square kilometres of the sea floor had now been searched, representing about 35 per cent of the priority search area.
“Assuming no other significant delays with vessels, equipment or from the weather, the current underwater search area may be largely completed around May 2015,” the ATSB said in its operational update.