The ICAO Council adopted new provisions this week aimed at preventing the loss of commercial aircraft experiencing distress in remote locations.The UN aviation agency has announced new amendments to Annex 6 to the Chicago Convention (Operation of Aircraft) which will take effect between now and 2021. They relate primarily to:
– The requirement for aircraft to carry autonomous distress tracking devices which can autonomously transmit location information at least once every minute in distress circumstances.
– The requirement for aircraft to be equipped with a means to have flight recorder data recovered and made available in a timely manner.
– Extending the duration of cockpit voice recordings to 25 hours so that they cover all phases
of flight for all types of operations.
“These developments are consistent with the findings and recommendations of the multidisciplinary Ad-Hoc Working Group ICAO formed after Malaysia Airlines MH370 went missing in March 2014,” commented Dr. Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu, ICAO Council President. “They directly support the concept of operations for the Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS) which was proposed by ICAO at that time, and will now greatly contribute to aviation’s ability to ensure that similar disappearances never occur again.”
The provisions relating to one-minute distress tracking are performance-based, meaning that airlines and aircraft manufacturers may consider all available and emerging technologies which can deliver the one-minute location tracking requirement specified.
The new flight recorder data recovery provisions are also performance-based, meaning that related technology solutions may or may not entail the need for deployable flight recorders.
“Taken together, these new provisions will ensure that in the 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,” confirmed President Aliu. “They will also contribute to greatly improved and more cost-effective search and rescue operations.”