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Tracking system for distressed planes to be decided by end of year

A decision on how airlines should track planes in distress could be made by the end of the year, aviation trade body the International Air Transport Association (Iata) has announced.

Aircraft that enter service from January 2021 must be equipped with a way of quickly recovering flight recorder data.

The importance of this was demonstrated by the loss of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 with 239 people on board in March 2014.

Its main wreckage and black boxes have still not been found despite an extensive search of the Indian Ocean.

The flight recorders of the EgyptAir plane which crashed on May 19 en route to Cairo have also not been recovered, although French investigators said signals have been detected from one of them.

Gilberto Lopez-Meyer, Iata’s s enior vice president for safety and flight operations, said the general method for obtaining flight recorder data from planes in distress should be decided in the next six months.

He told the Iata annual general meeting in Dublin: “By the end of this year we should have a concrete and definite position on this issue.

“We are a strong participant in the discussion with ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation). We expect to have a position on this by the end of this year.”

Iata released figures which show that the accident rate for passenger jets was 0.32 per million flights in 2015, up from 0.27 on the previous year which was the lowest in aviation history.

This is the equivalent of one accident for every 3.1 million flights that took place last year.

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Mr Lopez-Meyer commented: “Aviation is safe. The industry has become so reliable in its safety record that relatively small variations in performance from year to year can affect the overall performance.

“We continue to monitor the system indicators on a regular basis and press towards improving the safety performance of our operations.”

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