MH370: Truss announces aircraft tracking trial



Australia will take part in a joint trial to improve aircraft tracking in response to the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 nearly a year ago, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss has announced.

Under the new system, planes flying over remote oceanic areas would be tracked every 15 minutes, rather than at intervals of 30 to 40 minutes.

Flight MH370 disappeared with 239 passengers and crew onboard on March 8 last year.

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Mr Truss said the tragedy put the spotlight on aircraft monitoring.

“This new approach enables immediate improvements to monitoring long haul flights and will give the public greater confidence in aviation, without requiring any additional technology investment by airlines,” he said.


Australia’s Fugro Discovery is part of the search for missing flight MH370. Photo: AAP

“This initiative adapts existing technology used by more than 90 per cent of long haul passenger aircraft and would see air traffic control respond more rapidly should an aircraft experience difficulty or an unexpected deviation from its flight plan.

“I especially welcome the involvement of both Indonesia and Malaysian Air Traffic Control providers to make this a truly regional initiative.”

Airservices Australia chairman Sir Angus Houston said the new measures would allow authorities to track planes more accurately and respond more quickly to any abnormal events.

“It’s also important to recognise that this is not a silver bullet, but it is an important step in delivering immediate improvements to the way we currently track aircraft while more comprehensive solutions are developed,” he said.

“Major airlines are also supporting this important safety initiative and have recognised the value in working collaboratively as part of a regional approach that will, ultimately, contribute to global action.”

The trial will see long haul flights in the airspace managed by Airservices, which covers 11 per cent of the world’s surface, tracked by satellite-based positioning technology.

Both the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) have announced their endorsement of moves toward increased surveillance of aircraft in remote airspace in the future.

The Malaysian government in January declared the disappearance was officially classified as an accident, and all 293 passengers, including six Australians, were believed to have died.

Australia has led the nearly year-long hunt for the missing plane.

The current search phase is focused on the sea floor about 1,600 kilometres west of Perth.

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