Malaysia Airlines tracks long-haul flights every 15 minutes after MH370 disappears

Within 15 minutes, Malaysia Airlines began tracking the location of long-haul flights proposed by the United Nations aviation agency after flight MH370 went missing a year ago, the Malaysian Transport Minister said. .

Liu Tiong Lai told Reuters the Southeast Asian country had also improved coordination between its military and civil aviation authorities to avoid the confusion and failures that plagued the initial search for the jet.

No trace of the Boeing 777-200 that disappeared on March 8, 2014 on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board has been found, making it one of the biggest mysteries in aviation history. ing.

With widespread shock that large airliners could easily disappear and calls for more efficient tracking, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has announced that by 2016, all aircraft will be at least 15 It was proposed as a global standard to automatically report the location every minute.

This week Australia, Indonesia and Malaysia announced they would begin trials of such systems, although airlines said the deadline was not realistic.

“In fact, we directed Malaysia Airlines to lead this real-time tracking and MAS introduced that for long-haul flights, data must be downloaded every 15 minutes,” Liow said in an interview. Told. “This was done independently and without a request from ICAO.”

The system proposed by ICAO Use equipment already installed on long-range aircraft to be collected. on board Data such as location, altitude, heading, and speed.

Not all airlines set up their equipment to send that data to satellites onboard their flights (Malaysia Airlines didn’t previously), and for those that do, every 30 minutes is standard. is.

Malaysia Airlines, also known as MAS, later announced that the system on its Boeing 777 aircraft had been upgraded to update the aircraft’s position every 15 minutes, and the position of its Boeing 737-800s and Airbus A330s and A380s every 10 minutes. announced that it is now possible to report the location.

Connect flight paths

The search for MH370 began in the South China Sea, approaching a point off Malaysia’s east coast where the plane disappeared from civilian radar screens. Days later, the Malaysian military revealed that it had been tracking the plane on radar as it turned west across the Malaysian peninsula, and the search moved to the Andaman Sea.

Several faint “ping” signals picked up by commercial satellites over a six-hour period led experts to piece together its final path and conclude that it crashed in a remote part of the Indian Ocean, west of Perth, Australia.

The Malaysian military came under fire for taking almost 24 hours to report to civilian authorities that radar may have spotted MH370’s diversion. That has changed, Rioux said.

“We have introduced a number of improvements in terms of working efficiency between the two departments and received emergency training for most of our staff,” he added.

In the frantic early stages of the search, Malaysia appealed to neighboring countries to share data from military radars that could show MH370’s flight path. However, due to its secretive nature, this information was slow to arrive.

Mr Liow said Malaysia had proposed to ICAO that it could provide a platform for sharing such data in the future.

“Cooperation between countries is important, how we share data and information and how we respond to emergencies,” Liou said.

Covers 44% of search area

Better tracking could pinpoint the aircraft’s location, but it may not be able to prevent another MH370 from flying in. Investigators believe someone intentionally switched off the transponder before the plane went thousands of kilometers off course.

Malaysia is expected to release the latest investigation report this weekend. Riou said he had not yet seen it and could not say whether it would be a final report or an interim statement.

Mr Riou said preventing aircraft tampering could be another challenge for ICAO, similar to the steps the agency took to improve aviation safety after the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. .

“I think ICAO needs to continue to strengthen the safety features introduced in the aviation industry,” he said.

Mr Riou said they could cover 1 per cent of the 60,000 square kilometer search area each day, weather permitting. To date he is 44% covered and the search is expected to be completed by May.

Australia, which is leading the search, said it was in talks with Malaysia and China about what to do if nothing was found by then. Mr Liow said Malaysia was ready to financially support the search beyond May.

Some of the passengers’ families have accused Malaysian authorities of withholding information, but Liow urged people not to “believe in any conspiracy theories.”

”[They] “We have to believe in the data, we have to believe in the facts, we have to believe in the experts who are providing us with the data that shows and proves that this plane is in the southern Indian Ocean,” he said. “And that’s why we’re focused on that area.”

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