Money & Business

IATA Faces Airline Resistance on Plane-Tracking Plan

By / Dec 11, 2014 (iStock/Thinkstock)

While the International Air Transport Association hopes to boost the tracking capabilities of airlines worldwide in response to the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines plane, IATA members say implementing a tracking system within a year could be impossible.

It’s been more than nine months since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared from view, possibly forever, and a leading international aviation trade group wants to ensure it never happens again.

There’s a problem, however: Airlines aren’t keen on the time frame the International Air Transport Association is suggesting for implementation of an aircraft location tracking system.

IATA—which has submitted a set of recommendations on the issue to the International Civil Aviation Organization, the aviation body of the United Nations—wants its member airlines to implement tracking technology within the next year. While it says airlines are open to the idea of upgrading, many say the 12-month time frame is unrealistic. Also, some airlines would like more investigation into what happened to MH370, which is believed to have crashed into the Indian Ocean.

“Our members took a very serious look at the recommendations,” IATA Director General Tony Tyler said, according to a Bloomberg report. “While they’re committed to improving, they could not fully endorse what would be practically unachievable for some. There’s no silver bullet.”

An industry task force led by IATA is recommending four-dimensional tracking—latitude, longitude, altitude, and the local time—accurate to within one kilometer and reported every 15 minutes.

The pressure is on to come up with an industry solution. This week, the European Union was reportedly considering a plan to compel airlines to introduce flight-tracking systems. Airlines fear that Europe-specific rules would mean inconsistent regulations and thus higher costs.

No matter the status of tracking, Tyler noted that Flight 370 is the exception—not the rule.

“[P]assengers can be reassured that MH370 was an extremely rare, if not unique event,” Tyler said at a Wednesday media event, according to Air Traffic Management. “Even though aircraft cannot be tracked in all cases, flying is safe. Over 100,000 flights operate safely every day. And new technology will play an important role in making the system even more robust.”

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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