Singapore carriers to track flights - ahead of global deadline

 Singapore carriers to track flights - ahead of global deadline

Singapore carriers must ensure that their flights are tracked at least every 15 minutes, two years ahead of a global requirement. The ruling, announced by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) yesterday to enhance safety standards, takes effect on July 1.

All flights by Singapore Airlines, Scoot, SilkAir, Tigerair, Jetstar Asia and SIA Cargo must be tracked throughout their entire duration.

This can be done either manually or automatically initially, but from Nov 8, 2018, only automatic tracking will be permitted.

The move is in line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation's (ICAO) plans for flights to be tracked every 15 minutes by November 2018.

Flight tracking is being made mandatory to avoid another MH370 tragedy. The Malaysia Airlines flight vanished on March 8, 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board. The Boeing 777 is presumed to have plunged into the Indian Ocean and has still not been found.

CAAS director-general Kevin Shum said: "The safety of the travelling public is always our priority. CAAS has worked closely with the industry to advance the implementation of the latest rules on enhanced aircraft tracking. When fully implemented, our airlines will have added assurance of the whereabouts and safety of their aircraft operations throughout their network."

While the new requirement is unlikely to have any manpower impact on carriers, operators of single-aisle planes like Tigerair and Jetstar Asia will need to make significant investments.

This is because unlike widebody planes, smaller aircraft are not fitted with the necessary equipment and technology to support regular flight tracking.

Installing it takes several days and costs about $100,000, The Straits Times understands.

SIA's acting senior vice-president of flight operations, Captain C.E. Quay, said: "We are supportive of the efforts to improve flight tracking capabilities. Singapore Airlines is already in compliance with CAAS' new rules, as we have enhanced flight tracking capabilities that give us detailed oversight of our global flight operations."

Managing director and chief operating officer of Tigerair Ho Yuen Sang said: "We have been working closely with CAAS in order to achieve the highest level of surveillance and tracking for our aircraft. We are confident that these industry-leading regulations represent a significant step forward in aviation safety which is our top priority."

This article was first published on March 5, 2016.
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