A two-day dialogue between experts on real-time monitoring of flight data has concluded in Kuala Lumpur.
The meeting was facilitated by ITU and hosted by the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia, Malaysia.
In March this year at the ITU’s World Telecommunication Development Conference, Malaysia’s Minister of Communications and Multimedia Ahmad Shabery Cheek called for an international effort to find solutions to track commercial aircraft in real time.
The meeting in Kuala Lumpur brought together industry leaders and experts from the aviation and information and communication technology (ICT) sectors, representatives of international organizations, governments and trade associations to explore global initiatives and current and future technological developments that could provide such solutions.
The Expert Dialogue was motivated by the events surrounding the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which departed Kuala Lumpur for Beijing on 8 March 2014 with 239 people on board.
Participants took note of the preliminary report on MH370 by the Chief Inspector of Air Accidents, Ministry of Transport, Malaysia dated 9 April 2014 and its recommendation addressed to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to examine the safety benefits of introducing a standard for real-time tracking of commercial aircraft.
Mr Shabery noted that international consensus is building and that the Government of India has already issued a circular to instruct airlines to track all aircraft in real time. “We hope this means the learning has begun and we want to crystallise and leverage on what has happened,” said Mr Shabery. “We are aware of the growing interest within governments to look for alternative means to track aircraft and the need to set up processes for real-time tracking of flight data.”
ITU Secretary-General Hamadoun I. Touré expressed his deep concern for the families affected by the disappearance of Flight MH370 and urged experts to look for technological solutions to track commercial aircraft more effectively and in real time. “The aviation and aerospace industries epitomize state-of-the-art in technology; and air travel is the safest mode of transport in the world,” said Dr Touré. “Yet, even as the multi-nation search for the missing Malaysia Airlines aircraft continues, we must make every effort at the international level to develop real-time tracking solutions for the aviation industry.”
Nancy Graham, Director, Air Navigation Bureau, ICAO, said that an Aircraft Tracking Task Force (ATTF) will address the near-term needs for flight tracking and that ICAO in partnership with ATTF will develop guidance material, based on available flight tracking best practices. Pending the outcome of the ATTF, airlines will be encouraged to use existing equipment and procedures to support flight tracking. She called for the global tracking of airline flights as a priority to provide early notice of and response to abnormal flight behaviour.
“This experts’ dialogue provided an opportunity to establish clear actions going forward, in particular related to ITU’s expertise in the fields of radio-frequency spectrum, satellites and ICT standardization,” said Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardisation Bureau. “It will help instigate an international effort to ensure that an event like MH370 is not repeated.”