The cross-industry Aircraft Tracking Task Force (ATTF), established in the wake of the tragic disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, has produced a report and recommendations that could be used to improve aircraft tracking capabilities globally.  

Tracking flight routes

The report contains an assessment of the current state of aircraft tracking, current and planned capabilities, performance criteria, and recommendations to airlines, air navigation service providers and governments through ICAO.  The performance criteria is designed to establish a baseline level of aircraft tracking capability and will enable operators to evaluate their current capabilities and implement or enhance tracking capabilities.

The ATTF report notes that there are many technologies and services available today to improve global aircraft tracking.

“Many airlines already have everything that’s been highlighted in these recommendations,” said Kevin Hiatt, Senior Vice-President, Safety and Flight Operations (SFO). “We are encouraging those airlines who do not to look at what’s available and consider adopting it.”
Hiatt added that the recommendations were not “prescriptive”, with airlines able to implement the tracking solution best-suited to their specific operational needs.
The report acknowledges that there are initiatives such as  space-based Automatic Dependence Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) that are planned to be available in the next few years that, once implemented, will improve global flight tracking. 

The report also discusses why some equipment on board aircraft must have the capability to be manually turned off by the crew, due to aircraft safety or operational requirements. 

As a result of discussions with manufacturers and other key stakeholders involved in the topic of “tamper-proofing”, the ATTF report states that ‘Any equipment changes to address unlawful interference are a long-term prospect owing to significant design, operational, procedural, certification, and safety considerations.’
The ATTF report and recommendations has been reviewed by IATA’s Board of Governors in December and it has been submitted to ICAO for incorporation into the overarching Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System (GADSS) document.  Both will be considered during the ICAO High-Level Safety Conference in early February.