Jet Vanishings Targeted With Plan for 15-Minute Position Reports

United Nations aviation regulators, responding to the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, are proposing that commercial planes be required to report their positions every 15 minutes.

The new draft standard from the International Civil Aviation Organization will be presented next month at an agency safety conference in Montreal, said Anthony Philbin, an ICAO spokesman. He declined to give more specifics on the plan.

ICAO’s move follows the creation of a working group on aircraft tracking last year in the aftermath of the Flight 370 mystery. The team analyzed in-plane technology, air traffic control networks, and search and rescue protocols with the aim of establishing a new Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System.

Aircraft tracking surged to the forefront of aviation-safety debates in March when Flight 370 vanished en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. Investigators have traced the jet’s path to the southern Indian Ocean, far off its intended course, and no wreckage has ever been found.

While that case spurred industry discussion about automated data systems to keep controllers apprised of a plane’s location, a self-reporting standard like ICAO’s probably would have made little difference in the Flight 370 mystery. That Boeing Co. 777 flew for hours after the last contact with the crew.

Last month’s crash of an AirAsia Bhd. jetliner in the Java Sea initially baffled investigators because it took several days to locate any floating debris. Unlike Flight 370, the AirAsia plane was being tracked by radar, and its pilot was in radio contact with the ground.

A task force from the International Air Transport Association, a global airline trade group, also has called for position reports on the quarter-hour. Some carriers have pushed back against IATA’s recommendations for technological upgrades.

Reuters reported the ICAO proposal on Tuesday.

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