The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on March 8, 2014 and the ongoing inability to locate the apparently doomed flight have puzzled experts worldwide. While the majority of oceanic aircraft routes are already commercially tracked by several satellites, no international tracking standard exists. This inadequacy allowed the flight’s disappearance and impedes its discovery two months after the aircraft’s transponder abruptly stopped communicating information about its speed and direction.
In response to Flight 370 and similar threats to other international flights, the United Nations is addressing the shortcoming through its International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). On May 12 – 13, 2014, ICAO Council States, nominated representatives from additional States and aircraft industry groups met in Montreal, Canada to discuss the urgent need for an international global tracking standard. During the meeting, a task force was appointed to devise viable solutions for global tracking by a September 2014 deadline. These solutions are expected to attract intense competition from private companies and to include at least the isolation of transponders from human tampering in locations including but not limited to aircraft cockpits.
Though the ICAO’s efforts are reportedly wholeheartedly supported by the aircraft industry, implementation and enforcement of the proposed international standard will be voluntary. In sum, though an international global tracking standard is surely on the horizon, individual airline companies will be free to use or disregard the international tracking measures and standards.
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