Develop satellite tracking of aircraft to improve safety and security, urge MEPs


Satellite technology that could one day track aircraft anywhere, so as to enhance safety, prevent safety and security breaches and facilitate data recovery for crash investigations, should be allocated its own radio spectrum band, say MEPs in a resolution voted on Thursday. They urge the EU Commission to put the case for earmarking this satellite-specific band, in order to promote development work, at the November 2015 meeting of the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) in Geneva.

“There have been tragedies that have brought out weaknesses in the current tracking system. Flight tracking systems today cover only around 30% of the global airspace, said Transport and Tourism Committee chair Michael Cramer (Greens/EFA, DE), putting a question to the Commission ahead of the vote on the resolution.

“Satellite ADS-B – Automatic Dependent Surveillance – Broadcast is one of the technologies, which would allow better safety, and would reduce infrastructure costs. Necessary spectrum band should be allocated for satellite-based technology“, he added.

The tragedies that ended Air France flight AF447 on 1 June 2009 and Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on 8 March 2014 highlighted the need to put in place new systems to determine the positions of public transport aircraft at all times, MEPs say in the resolution.

Noting that today’s flight tracking systems cover only parts of the globe, MEPs argue that using satellite-based tracking systems would help to determine the location of an aircraft in the event of abnormal behaviour, an emergency or an accident, and improve the effectiveness of search, rescue and accident investigation efforts.

Satellite-based tracking systems should not be affected by the loss of normal electrical power on board aircraft and neither should it be possible to disable them during the flight, says the text.

MEPs call on the EU Commission to take necessary steps – with a view to the next World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-15) in November 2015 – “regarding the allocation of the necessary radio spectrum band to support the future development of a satellite-based global flight tracking system”.