Qatar Air to Test Flight Tracking After Malaysian Disappearance

Qatar Airways Ltd. plans to equip its fleet with an automatic tracking system amid an industry-wide push to prevent incidents like the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 last year in the Indian Ocean.

The system will transmit data from the plane’s flight-data recorder to the airline operations center, Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said in Doha. The technology is being tested now ahead of a fleet-wide roll-out.

“Once this has been proven and all the bugs have been cleared then Qatar Airways will, I hope, be the first airliner to introduce this in all our planes,” he told reporters.

The issue of tracking of an aircraft’s whereabouts and its performance has gained prominence after MH370 vanished without a trace on a routine flight from Malaysia to China last year. The International Air Transport Association is pushing aviation regulators to require automatic tracking systems on airliners from take-off to landing without control from pilots.

Adoption within a year of performance criteria including the ability to track planes across their entire potential range is deemed unrealistic by some carriers, which argue that the response to MH370 requires more time and investigation, IATA CEO Tony Tyler told reporters in Geneva last month.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations aviation regulator, is proposing that commercial planes be required to report their position every 15 minutes.

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