New Satellites Will Soon Allow Flights to Be Tracked in Real Time
Losses like Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 might soon be a thing of the past, with new satellites that will soon allow flights to be tracked in real time over oceans.
New international safety standards also begin to kick-in next year, although the deadline for airlines to meet most of the standards is still four years away. Even then, it could be decades before the changes permeate the entire global airline fleet because some of the requirements apply only to newly manufactured planes.
Atholl Buchan, director of flight operations at the International Air Transport Association, which represents most international carriers, said a repeat of MH370 is "highly unlikely" since many airlines have already increased their efforts to keep tabs on planes over open ocean where they are beyond the reach of land-based radar.
"In a few years, new systems and technology will allow for global surveillance coverage," he said.
The International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. agency, approved a series of new global safety standards last year in response to MH370, including a requirement that airline pilots flying over ocean out of the range of radar report their position by radio every 15 minutes. Previously, they were required to report every 30 minutes. The new requirement kicks in next year, but many airlines have already switched.