ICAO adopts global tracking standard

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International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) member states approved an aircraft tracking standard on 3 February at its 2015 High Level Safety Conference, which was held from 2-5 February at ICAO’s Montréal (Canada) headquarters.

The United Nations aviation body recommended standard is performance-based and not prescriptive, meaning airlines would be able to meet it using the available and planned technologies and procedures they deem suitable. ICAO council president, Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, says it will be an important first step in providing a foundation for global flight tracking and the future implementation of the more comprehensive ICAO global aeronautical distress and safety system (GADSS). “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 explains.

ICAO developed the concept of operations for GADSS in 2014 at a meeting on global flight tracking after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which was a Boeing 777-200 (see left picture). The concept has a three-tiered approach for tracking for the long term, covering normal, abnormal and distress conditions. The standard recommended by ICAO’s High Level Safety Conference is considered consistent with the long-term GADSS concept.

ICAO’s intention is to coordinate regional exercises shortly after the standard is adopted, aiding states with both the standard’s introduction and their ability to respond together to abnormal flight behaviour scenarios. “In the longer-term ICAO will also be developing requirements and assistance measures for abnormal and distress tracking,” Dr Aliu adds.

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