April 17 Rockwell Collins Inc, maker of
a key communications system for jets, is interested in joining a
task force on improving global airline tracking to prevent
further disappearances of planes like Malaysia Airlines Flight
370, its chief executive said on Thursday.
Chief Executive Officer Kelly Ortberg said the avionics
supplier had "a lot of value to add" to the task force planned
by the International Air Transport Association that will look at
ways to track airplanes and make recommendations.
The Malaysia Airlines flight disappeared from radar screens
on March 8 with 239 people on board. On Thursday, Australian
search authorities said footage taken by a deep-sea drone could
help determine whether the lost jet ended up in a remote area of
the Indian Ocean.
Last year, Rockwell acquired ARINC, a provider of aviation
connectivity services including flight planning and high-speed
data. ARINC developed the Aircraft Communications Addressing and
Reporting System, or ACARS, designed to transmit maintenance
data back to the ground. Data from the ACARS system indicated
that the Malaysia Airlines jet had veered away from its planned
path and led rescuers to search in the Indian Ocean.
"The industry is pledging to go figure out a way to make
sure this never happens again," Ortberg said in an interview,
referring to the disappearance of the Boeing jet.
Ortberg said the technology exists to improve plane
"We may have to write some software, we may have to do some
different things--upgrade the airplane to implement this
capability--but we don't need to invest in new technology," he
"With GPS satellites and connectivity, this is a solvable
problem," Ortberg added.
The task force convened by IATA is expected to include
airlines, aircraft and system makers and search and rescue
experts, said IATA spokesman Perry Flint.
IATA has also said the task force would include the
International Civil Aviation Organization, a United Nations
agency that sets air travel standards. ICAO is planning a
special meeting May 12-13 at its Montreal headquarters to
discuss airplane and satellite capabilities needed to track
(Reporting by Karen Jacobs in Atlanta)