Need for real-time tracking of planes

Need for real-time tracking of planes

PETALING JAYA - Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai has called on the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Council to establish requirements for real-time global tracking of commercial aircraft.

He said, in view of the loss of MH370 and the MH17 take-down over eastern Ukraine, there was a need to extend the transmission life of underwater locator beacons installed in flight recorders on all commercial aircraft.

"Malaysia urges the council to take these steps without further delay," he said in his address before the 203rd ICAO Council in Montreal, Canada, on Monday.

Liow said it was widely accepted that if the batteries of the locator beacons had a longer life span, it could have made a dramatic difference in the search for MH370.

He said while some industry participants thought that improving tracking systems was not imperative at this time, Malaysia disagreed.

Liow commended the ICAO for taking the timely initiative to collaborate with key industry participants and form the "aircraft tracking task force", but urged ICAO to move a step further.

"From an industry perspective, the disappearance of MH370 demonstrates the crucial need to improve aircraft tracking systems for the sake of safety and security.

"In this day and age, the fact that an airplane could go missing and that the flight recorders could be so difficult to recover is unacceptable," he said, urging the organisation to introduce to member states a resolution in support of Malaysia's recommendations.

Liow said that as the global community stands in solidarity with the families of the passengers and crew who were lost, it must now move forward with a renewed sense of purpose to establish the next generation of safety and security standards in international civil aviation.

What happened to MH17 could have happened to any aircraft, he added.

"On an average day, more than eight million people fly and it would be nothing short of negligent on our part to waste one more day without implementing policies and procedures to help keep them safe," he said.

Liow also recommended that timely reporting of relevant information on flight risks be made mandatory to the ICAO by member states and that ICAO establishes global protocol to disseminate this information to member states and airlines.

He also noted that progress in the MH17 investigation had been hindered by the geopolitical situation in Ukraine and highlighted the need to revisit the existing guidelines for investigations in cases where an air crash occurs in a conflict zone.

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