Image by Fredrik Olastuen

The UN’s panel on aviation has announced that airplanes should now be fitted with autonomous distress tracking devices which allow them to transmit their location during emergencies.


The International Civil Aviation Organization announced the new provisions yesterday—a year to the day since the MH370 disaster. The new devices should be able to transmit “information at least once every minute in distress circumstances.” That would allow authorities to track aircraft in real time during emergencies—something that wasn’t possible during the incident two years ago.

The Organization will also now demand two other safety updates. Firstly, it will require cockpit voice recordings to run for up to 25 hours “so that they cover all phases” of a flight. Second, it demands that aircraft “be equipped with a means to have flight recorder data recovered and made available in a timely manner.” Often the recovery of flight recorders is a complex procedure, though it’s unclear exactly what will be done to make the process more straightforward.


The timeline for airlines to implement the updates to their aircraft is generous, with a deadline of 2021 for the changes to made.

[ICAO via Guardian]