Automatic Aircraft Tracking Should Be Made Mandatory

Doha: Aircraft tracking should be mandatory and planes should have technology that automatically tracks them, says the chief of Qatar Airways.

Group chief executive His Excellency Akbar Al Baker addressed the hot button issue of aircraft tracking during the global launch of the A350 XWB, the latest Airbus aircraft in Doha, Qatar on 7 January.

“I sit on the board of governors with IATA (the International Air Transport Association). IATA should be leading on this issue of automatic tracking of planes… We are insisting that now it should be mandatory that aircraft should be automatically tracked,” he said.

Aircraft tracking has come under scrutiny in the wake of mishaps, like the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines MH370 in March last year, and the AirAsia QZ8501 crash while it was en route from Surabaya to Singapore.

Such tracking technology is in the pipeline for Qatar Airways, said Al Baker. The airline is working with a provider that helps to transmit flight data recorded in the plane’s black box recorder continuously to a data centre on the ground. “All flight data being recorded in the black box will be received continuously in an operating centre on the ground. Once all the bugs are removed, Qatar Airways hopes to be the first airliner to introduce this on all our airplanes,” he elaborated.

“No CEO can give a guarantee that they will always have an accident-free operation,” he said, adding that passengers and cabin crew have also gotten injured while travelling in clear weather. “What is important is that we train our crew to the highest standards so that they avoid getting into troubles that are unforeseen in an airplane.”

“[Southeast Asia] has thousands of planes flying in that airspace and the rate of accidents is still one of the lowest in the world,” he added.



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