GENEVA – The aeronautical sector is set to deploy a new satellite tracking system that will increase flight safety worldwide according to an announcement on Tuesday by the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union.
The UN has decided to set down new and improved technical standards to guarantee aircraft tracking in a bid to prevent flights from disappearing off the radar, a statement said.
According to ITU spokesperson, Jennifer Ferguson, at a press conference in Geneva, “at any given time, there are some 59,000 aircraft in flight worldwide.”
The ITU is the UN specialized information and communication technological agency setting global standards fostering the seamless interconnection of diverse communications systems.
“The ability to effectively track, monitor and report these aircraft is paramount to ensuring the safety of passengers and crew,” she said, would be a “major step,” particularly in “areas where terrestrial receivers cannot practically be deployed, such as in oceanic, trans-polar and remote regions.”
ITU Secretary-General Houlin Zhao had said that since the tragic disappearance of flight MH370 in 2014 over the South China Sea, ITU had undertaken activities aiming to improve “the tracking of in-flight aircraft using advanced data and communication technologies.”
He stressed that the adoption of enhanced aircraft surveillance via satellite would “make great strides in saving lives.”
Therefore future aircraft will include an onboard automatic surveillance, as part of a wider integrated terrestrial and space-based satellite system grid by which aircraft will automatically provide, via a data link, onboard navigation and position fixing systems.
These would include aircraft identification, four-dimensional position (latitude, longitude, altitude and time) and additional data.
The technique is termed “automatic” because there is neither intervention from the pilot nor prompting from terrestrial stations, and “dependent” because the data flow depends upon onboard systems such as obtained from an onboard global navigation satellite systems (GNSS) and altimeter readings.
The ITU spokesperson concluded this system relays the information to the “relevant airline operators and air traffic control centers” who then track the aircraft identifying any anomalies in their flight profiles and initiate emergency procedures where necessary, “enhancing safety in the sky.”