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Costs won't deter airlines from real-time tracking: ICAO

KUALA LUMPUR - Major airlines fully support global real-time tracking of their planes following the disappearance of MH370 despite the additional cost, a senior United Nations aviation official said Monday.

Members of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) -- the UN’s aviation agency -- had agreed earlier this month to implement regulations on tracking commercial flights but did not offer a formal timeline.

ICAO air navigation director Nancy Graham said implementation would take "a little bit longer" once an International Air Travel Association (IATA) taskforce on in-flight tracking presents its finding in September.

"The airlines are absolutely in solidarity. There is no price you can put on safety or for the certainty of where the aircraft are," Graham told reporters at the sidelines of a dialogue on tracking technologies in Kuala Lumpur.

"It’s already begun. Many airlines today already do track (their planes). That’s the voluntary path. At the same time we are looking at developing global standards to make that a rule."

IATA, the global aviation industry body, had said in April that tracking of passenger planes must improve as "we cannot let another aircraft simply vanish" after the Malaysia Airlines flight went missing on March 8.

ICAO has said there are off-the-shelf solutions costing under $100,000 per plane while British satellite operator Inmarsat has offered a basic tracking service to all of the world’s passenger airlines free-of-charge.

Graham also denied a lack of urgency in improving flight-tracking following the 2009 crash of Air France 447 in the Atlantic Ocean, saying it would not have prevented the MH370 disappearance.

"We put our energy and money into preventing accidents. Nothing we would have done would’ve prevented this," she said.

The fate of MH370 has become one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history since it vanished 11 weeks ago during a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board.

AFP


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