Malaysia Airlines now has faster aircraft tracking system: Malaysia transport minister

PUTRAJAYA: Beleaguered Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has installed a tracking system for its aircraft following the disappearance of flight MH370 a year ago, Malaysian state news agency Bernama quoted transport minister Liow Tiong Lai as saying on Friday.

"(Data downloading) every 15 minutes, very close to real time. For aircraft and aviation industry, 15 minutes signal downloading and data processing is of great importance," Liow told a media briefing ahead of the first anniversary of flight MH370's disappearance, Bernama reported.

The new tracking system increases the minimum tracking frequency to 15 minutes from current intervals of 30 to 40 minutes for planes flying over remote oceans, Australian authorities said earlier this month when the system went on trial in Australia, Malaysia and Indonesia.

Malaysia proposed during a meeting of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO)in Montreal last October that all international commercial flights be fitted with real-time tracking system, said Liow.

"ICAO took the proposal very seriously and had set up a special committee to analyse the proposal and will announce their decision by Aug 31," he said.

Flight MH370, with 239 on board, went off the radar screens about one hour after departing from KL International Airport for Beijing on March 8 last year.

Liow said on Friday he was cautiously optimistic of locating the plane, which vanished in the southern Indian Ocean, reported Bernama.

The minister noted that an ongoing multinational search operation had covered about 26,000sq km or 44 per cent of the 60,000 sq km of the designated area.