MH370: Global airline body calls for urgent action on aircraft tracking and sharing of passenger data
Published on Apr 1, 2014 11:08 AM
A global airline body has called for a common industry position on global tracking of aircraft, and for governments to make more effective use of passenger data that carriers spend millions each year gathering.
Mr Tony Tyler, director-general and chief executive of the International Air Transport Association (Iata), said that while it may be many years before the truth about the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines (MAS) flight MH370 is known, there are processes that need to be fixed.
"In a world where our every move seems to be tracked, there is disbelief both that an aircraft could simply disappear and that the black box is so difficult to recover... We cannot let another aircraft simply disappear," he said in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday.
The box, located at the tail end of a plane, contains the cockpit voice and flight data recorders. These record conversations between pilots in the cockpit as well as between them and air traffic controllers. The box also preserves data on the position and speed of the aircraft that can prove crucial in determining the cause of aircraft accidents.
An expert task force will be set up to look into forming an industry consensus on aircraft tracking, and report its findings by December, Mr Tyler said.
The fact that two passengers boarded the MAS flight on March 8 with stolen passports should "ring alarm bells", he said.
The industry goes to great effort and expense to ensure that governments who require advance passenger information (API) receive reliable data.
Mr Tyler said: "It costs the airlines millions of dollars every year to provide API to some 60 governments. I've often wondered whether they were using it."
Speaking at the opening of an Iata conference in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, he noted that while MH370 is a "tragedy", it is also "a rarity".
Last year, there were 29.3 million flights and 12 major accidents which resulted in serious damage to aircraft.
This means that for every 2.4 million flights, there was one accident - a 14.6 per cent improvement from the five-year average.