The Daily Mail announced that a UN agency may delay mandating technology which might have located the Malaysian aircraft after it went beyond the radar range. Given the months of searching for that airframe with only partial success so far, why the change of the priority?
ICAO is the United Nations organization charged with setting global standards for aviation. In response to the disappearance of MH 370 that body quickly recommended that automated tracking systems be installed. The case for adding this capacity to locate aircraft at all times and all places was not made adequately made and even EASA indicated a reluctance to mandate the installation of this equipment and space-based surveillance satellites.
As an interim solution, ICAO suggested that while the systems are being developed, manual reporting by radio be instituted. It established a task force, called the Normal Aircraft Tracking Implementation Initiative (NATII). That committee responded by saying that manual reports could distract pilots, causing safety problems, and might not be accurate. NATII’s recommendations were based on discussions with airlines that fly in remote areas and a “table top exercise” to test tracking procedures.
The 2016 installation deadline was extended because the general opinion was that it could not be achieved. No new schedule was announced.
AirTraffic Management.net quotes an ICAO source as saying:
“It’s the applicability timeline that is currently being reviewed in light of the NATII results and other considerations now being discussed in our Air Navigation Commission, which provides technical advice to the Council on these matters.”
The ICAO website touts a new centralized online information area for aircraft tracking developments. That suggests that the UN agency may still be trying to stimulate the implementation date with this repository of technology advances.
It will be instructive to watch the progress of technology there. But even more telling will be the development of a cost/benefit analysis which satisfies the regulatory tests of some of the world’s CAAs justification processes.