ICAO Calls Special Meeting on Flight Tracking

 - April 8, 2014, 3:27 PM
Phoenix International personnel deploy the towed pinger locator made by their company off the deck of the Royal Australian Navy vessel Ocean Shield. (Photo: Royal Australian Navy)

As the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 entered its fifth week, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) announced on April 7 that it will convene a special meeting of state and industry experts on the global tracking of airline flights next month.

The council president of ICAO, Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, noted that organization will use the occasion of the May 12-13 gathering to try to “increase momentum” in deliberations over satellite-based capabilities needed for global implementation of worldwide flight tracking.

“The loss of an aircraft and any loss of life are always of utmost concern to ICAO and to the entire air transport community,” said Aliu. “The unprecedented and unusual circumstances of flight MH370 have been particularly difficult for civil aviation officials to resolve to this point, and the lack of definitive answers has been much harder still for the victims’ families to come to terms with. They, above all, will benefit from a fuller explanation of this accident.”

In related areas of its work, ICAO has recently established new guidance on underwater locator beacons (ULBs), scheduled to come into force in 2018. Its panel dedicated to flight recorders continues to review new means of expediting the location of accident sites, including deployable flight recorders and the triggered transmission of flight data. The UN agency also promises to review its work relating to aviation security, travel documents and “identity management,” as well as the requirements for the transport of lithium batteries.

Aliu also drew reference to ICAO’s new policy on aircraft accident victims and their families, noting its aim of encouraging ICAO member states to provide all necessary services and information to affected passengers and their relatives. He said that ICAO will provide technical assistance to Malaysia in the course of its ongoing investigation, and expressed encouragement in the levels of international cooperation and contributions of personnel and resources seen in the aftermath of the airplane’s disappearance.

“No matter how safe or secure we make the air transport network, these types of event remind our entire sector that no effort is ever enough, no solution ever a reason to stop seeking further improvement,” said Aliu. “Each and every day more than 100,000 flights are safely and securely managed by the global air transport system and we accomplish this mainly through steadfast commitment and cooperation. I’m confident that by continuing to work together in this manner we may eventually help find closure for the affected families and bring greater certainty to the question of how and why this aircraft was lost.”