China / Society

Experts call for adoption of real-time flight tracking

By Zhao Lei (China Daily) Updated: 2014-12-30 07:40

The global civil aviation industry should speed up the adoption of a real-time tracking system for passenger airliners to improve safety, experts suggested.

"Real-time tracking technology for civil airliners has been well-developed," said Zhao Yifei, a professor specializing in air traffic management at Civil Aviation University of China. "It is very necessary for airliners to have such a system because it can enable rapid location of a plane in case of contingencies."

He added: "Considering the fact that air traffic control authorities usually do not monitor flights that fly across an ocean because they are out of radar range, it is especially essential for long-distance, ocean-spanning flights to be equipped with real-time tracking instruments."

His remarks came as a multinational operation worked to locate a missing AirAsia jetliner carrying 162 people.

The plane, which disappeared over the Java Sea on Sunday, is likely at the bottom of the sea, Bambang Soelistyo, chief of Indonesia's national search and rescue agency, said on Monday.

"We assume the missing jet is at the bottom of the sea based on the coordinates given to us," he told reporters at a news conference, adding that this was only a preliminary evaluation of data and needed verification.

An operation by Indonesia, Australia, Singapore and Malaysia to find the missing aircraft was underway. China told Indonesia that it is willing to provide other assistance as needed, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement.

Currently, airliners report their locations periodically to their companies and air traffic control departments through satellite-based positioning apparatuses or verbal communication by pilots.

Wang Ya'nan, deputy editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine, said a succession of airliner accidents that shocked the world this year will accelerate the use of real-time tracking technology in the civil aviation sector.

"Airlines have realized that the more safety measures they use, the more assured the passengers would be," he said. "However, they still have concerns over the costs, which are expected to be high because of the constant transmission of flight data."

In addition, upgrading old aircraft and ground control facilities will cost a considerable sum, he said.

(China Daily 12/30/2014 page3)

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