Monday 7 March 2016

Singapore carriers must track flights at least every 15 minutes from 1 July 2016: CAAS

Singapore carriers to track flights - ahead of global deadline
They must be tracked every 15 mins from July 1 to boost safety: Aviation authority
By Karamjit Kaur, Aviation Correspondent, The Straits Times, 5 Mar 2016

Singapore carriers must ensure that their flights are tracked at least every 15 minutes, two years ahead of a global requirement. The ruling, announced by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) yesterday to enhance safety standards, takes effect on July 1.

All flights by Singapore Airlines, Scoot, SilkAir, Tigerair, Jetstar Asia and SIA Cargo must be tracked throughout their entire duration.

This can be done either manually or automatically initially, but from Nov 8, 2018, only automatic tracking will be permitted.

The move is in line with the International Civil Aviation Organisation's (ICAO) plans for flights to be tracked every 15 minutes by November 2018.

Flight tracking is being made mandatory to avoid another MH370 tragedy. The Malaysia Airlines flight vanished on March 8, 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board. The Boeing 777 is presumed to have plunged into the Indian Ocean and has still not been found.

CAAS director-general Kevin Shum said: "The safety of the travelling public is always our priority. CAAS has worked closely with the industry to advance the implementation of the latest rules on enhanced aircraft tracking. When fully implemented, our airlines will have added assurance of the whereabouts and safety of their aircraft operations throughout their network."

While the new requirement is unlikely to have any manpower impact on carriers, operators of single-aisle planes like Tigerair and Jetstar Asia will need to make significant investments.

This is because unlike widebody planes, smaller aircraft are not fitted with the necessary equipment and technology to support regular flight tracking.

Installing it takes several days and costs about $100,000, The Straits Times understands.

SIA's acting senior vice-president of flight operations, Captain C.E. Quay, said: "We are supportive of the efforts to improve flight tracking capabilities. Singapore Airlines is already in compliance with CAAS' new rules, as we have enhanced flight tracking capabilities that give us detailed oversight of our global flight operations."

Managing director and chief operating officer of Tigerair Ho Yuen Sang said: "We have been working closely with CAAS in order to achieve the highest level of surveillance and tracking for our aircraft. We are confident that these industry-leading regulations represent a significant step forward in aviation safety which is our top priority."

New rules to boost real-time tracking of civilian planes
UN aviation agency toughens requirements in the wake of MH370 disappearance in 2014
By Karamjit Kaur, Aviation Correspondent, The Straits Times, 9 Mar 2016

Two years after a Malaysia Airlines jet went missing, the United Nations' aviation agency announced new rules to ensure that civilian aircraft in distress can be tracked almost in real time.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) said airlines must ensure that their planes are fitted with tracking devices that can independently transmit the location of the aircraft at least once a minute in case of an emergency.

This is to prevent a replay of incidents like the disappearance of Flight MH370, which presumably crashed into the Indian Ocean while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014 with 239 people on board.

The plane apparently flew for about seven hours without any contact with the airline or air traffic controllers before its fatal plunge.

Despite an extensive search, it has still not been established where the plane ran into trouble and possibly crashed.

In another of the guidelines to be put in place between now and 2021, ICAO said that planes must also be equipped with systems and technology that are able to recover flight recorder data in "a timely manner". It did not elaborate.

The recorder - part of a plane's black box - is critical in air crash investigations because it contains vital operational data such as flight time, altitude, speed and direction.

As part of ICAO's new guidelines, the cockpit voice recorder, also part of the black box that captures conversations within the cockpit, must be able to run for 25 hours.

This is so that it covers all phases of a flight for all types of operations. The typical recording time now is two hours.

ICAO council president Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu said the developments are consistent with the findings and recommendations of a multi-disciplinary working group that was formed after the MH370 incident. The requirements "will greatly contribute to aviation's ability to ensure that similar disappearances never occur again", he said.

The provisions are performance-based, which means that airlines and aircraft manufacturers can consider all available and emerging technologies that can deliver the results.

Mr Aliu said: "Taken together, these new provisions will ensure that in case of an accident, the location of the site will be known immediately to within six nautical miles, and that investigators will be able to access the aircraft's flight recorder data promptly and reliably."

They will also contribute to greatly improved and more cost-effective search and rescue operations, he added. It is estimated that more than $150 million has already been spent on the search for MH370.

Apart from ICAO's latest guidelines, airlines will have to ensure, possibly by 2018, that all fights are tracked at least every 15 minutes.

For local carriers like Singapore Airlines, the rule kicks in on July 1, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said last week.

Yesterday, a spokesman told The Straits Times the authority is working towards adopting ICAO's latest requirements.


Singapore Moves to Enhance Aircraft Tracking - Aircraft tracking to be implemented to meet ICAO requirements

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