world of aviation logo

ICAO recommends aircraft to report position every 15 minutes in response to MH370 disappearance

written by WOFA | February 5, 2015

A file image of Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER 9M-MRO at Sydney. (Seth Jaworski)
A file image of Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER 9M-MRO at Sydney. (Seth Jaworski)

Aircraft will have to report their location every 15 minutes under a proposal from the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The ICAO recommendation, made at a meeting of its member states in Montreal on Wednesday, follows the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in March 2014. The aircraft that operated the flight, a Boeing 777-200ER with registration 9M-MRO, is yet to be found.

ICAO said the recommendation was “performance-based and not prescriptive”, meaning airlines would be able used any available and planned technologies they believed was suitable to meet the 15-minute reporting standard.

ICAO Council President Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu said the new standard was an “an important first step in providing a foundation for global flight tracking”.

“Through an expedited process, it will now be sent to our member states before the end of the month for formal comment and we’re anticipating its adoption by Council as early as this fall,” Aliu said in a statement.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents airlines around the world, said it supported the move.

IATA chief executive Tony Tyler said the ICAO recommendations was “a reassurance to all travellers that safety is always aviation’s top priority” and noted many airlines were already tracking their aircraft.


“We welcome this initiative to implement a performance-based standard that will permit airlines to use new and existing technologies for aircraft tracking,” Tyler said in a statement.

“Through a combined effort of all stakeholders we can reach performance-based provisions that are founded on proper research and operational experience.

“We look forward to working with ICAO in the pursuit of effective and sustainable solutions that do not create unnecessary redundancy nor have unintended impacts on safety.”

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB), which is leading the search for the missing MH370 in the Indian Ocean, said on February 4 some 21,000 square kilometres of the sea floor had now been searched, representing about 35 per cent of the priority search area.

“Assuming no other significant delays with vessels, equipment or from the weather, the current underwater search area may be largely completed around May 2015,” the ATSB said in its operational update.


  • Neil


    15 minute reporting !!!.. SERIOUSLY…
    This can mean that the aircraft is hundreds of kilometres away from the last reporting point before the next. Is something should happen, this still leaves a HUGE search area.
    surely a 5 minute (or less) reporting period would be more beneficial.

  • William


    It’s has to be a system independent of all other aircraft systems. You don’t want pilots to have the ability to be able to power it off and stop location from being transmitted.

  • Marc


    The system is already there. Its called a transponder.

  • Raymond


    Sorry, but can somebody please explain just WHY in this day and age of every technological gadget under the sun available to the consumer that an airliner with hundreds of souls onboard and worth hundreds of millions of dollars simply cannot have REAL TIME tracking? Please?!

  • Adrian Paddington


    I think you will find its cost Raymond.
    Satellites are not cheap and the rush to scrapping primary radar does not help.
    Makes you wonder on the capability of the worlds military regarding surveillance of craft of unknown origin, or are they just not willing to comment.

  • Raymond


    Thanks Adrian, but a courier or freight company, for example, can track all its vehicles. A business can install trackers on their sales reps’ cars. There is global coverage. Why can’t airliners?

  • Adrian Paddington


    Perhaps the location of an aircraft could be added to the engine management data burst that is currently sent to satellites.

  • Marty


    Neil – approximately 200 NM from an exact gps location is better then 60,000 guesstimate, bandwidth with constant streaming is cost prohibitive an overloads satellite systems. Marc cool except aside from switching off the system only works in radar range. MH370 out of range as was F447.. ADS-B through transponder currently only works with communication towers, and other aircraft and absolute maximum range is 250nm. Raymond unfortunately without being over land or close to the only option is satellite gps satellite. Again cost and system clogging. Its important to explore tracking options but ft447 (2009) had ACARS reporting and the initial search was disjointed and a mess WHI found it within two weeks 6nm from the last ACARS broadcast. MH370 seems to be a deliberate criminal act so that makes two high profile cases and nothing prior to about the 1970s or earlier?

  • Ben


    For safety any such system will ALWAYS be protected by a circuit breaker which is invariably located in the cockpit. Won’t stop an aircraft disappearing if those with nefarious intent know what they are doing.

    As far as tracking… ADS-C already defaults to a reporting period of 14 minutes in Oz airspace outside of radar coverage. Also Iridium is fitting ADS-B receivers to all its latest gen satellites. In the not too distant future there will be global ADS-B coverage by their system and given the global ADS-B equipment mandates in several countries surely it’s then silly to implement yet another tracking system.

    As far as other trackers it’s not impossible (most if not all helicopters operating to/from the offshore rigs have some variant of tracker in board with update times from 5 minutes to 30 seconds). However cost is a big deal, throwing a spot into your 172 is vastly different to fitting a tracker to a high capacity RPT jet. Also there would be capacity issues when you rapidly add tens of thousands of aircraft to the system with various update rates.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Each day, our subscribers are more informed with the right information.

SIGN UP to the Australian Aviation magazine for high-quality news and features for just $99.95 per year