| KUALA LUMPUR
KUALA LUMPUR May 27 Global standards to track
aircraft in real time may not be ready for two to three years, a
senior official with the U.N. aviation agency said on Tuesday,
although the process could be accelerated as airlines adopt
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has
formed a group to come up with methods for tracking by the end
of September, responding to public concern following the
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 mystery.
IATA said its members would implement measures voluntarily,
before any rules were in place.
"Typically a global standard can take 2-3 years to put in
place," Nancy Graham, director of the International Civil
Aviation Organization (ICAO) Air Navigation Bureau, told
reporters in Kuala Lumpur.
"This will expedite that because we will have learned a lot
of lessons from the voluntary path."
Graham was speaking after a conference of aviation
regulators and industry officials in the Malaysian capital tried
to flesh out details of new tracking standards two weeks after
ICAO nations agreed to set up the task force.
But the meeting left questions unanswered over how much the
new systems could cost - and feed through to higher fares - and
how smoothly they could be implemented across global airlines.
"The bigger airlines that fly globally might have the cash
for it, but the smaller players already have their margins
stressed and don't have much money left to spare," said one
airline industry official who asked not to be identified.
Regular flight-tracking was one of the key recommendations
of French investigators after the loss of Air France
Flight 447 in 2009. Aviation experts say previous attempts to
reach agreement on tracking and other reforms in the aftermath
of that disaster have been delayed by uncertainties over the
cost and control of infrastructure.
Inmarsat Group, a satellite company whose data
helped track MH370, has offered to provide airlines with
tracking at no cost. Rival firms such as Iridium Communications
, however, say outfitting a jet with the tracking system
could cost more than $100,000.
Malaysian investigators suspect someone shut off MH370's
data links making the plane impossible to track, prompting Prime
Minister Najib Razak to call for the ICAO to adopt real-time
tracking of civilian aircraft.
The Boeing 777 jet vanished from civilian radar
screens less than an hour after take-off from Kuala Lumpur en
route to Beijing on March 8.
Graham rejected criticism that regulators and the industry
should have been quicker to act on calls for real-time tracking
following the 2009 disaster.
She said ICAO examined three different reports on the Air
France crash and made 25 recommendations as a result. Real-time
tracking would not have prevented that or the MH370
disappearance, she said.
"There was no requirement to develop a rule for global
tracking out of the Air France incident," Graham said. "That
does not mean we should not do it. It just means we should not
connect the two together."
(Editing by Stuart Grudgings and Nick Macfie)