MEPs Call for Urgent Action to Support Global Flight Tracking

- Brussels, Belgium.

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) from across the political spectrum called today for action by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on technology that supports global flight tracking and air navigation. At a symposium at the European Parliament, ‘Disappeared Aircraft in a Connected World: An Urgent Call to Action’, they asked European Union (EU) stakeholders to help guarantee that regulatory barriers to satellite-based flight tracking be lifted to enable life-saving services for EU citizens. In a show of their conviction, the MEPs also launched a Resolution of the European Parliament to that effect.

“Given the limitations of aircraft tracking today, this technology is simply indispensable,” said Eamonn Brennan, Chief Executive of the Irish Aviation Authority, which has wide responsibility for air traffic management in the North Atlantic. “Satellite ADS-B will greatly assist airlines, aviation authorities, air navigation service providers and search-and-rescue agencies during emergency situations. The ability to provide the location of aircraft with tremendous accuracy is precisely the kind of service being sought by the International Civil Aviation Organization, the International Air Transport Association, airlines and other aviation bodies.”

Recalling the recent tragedies of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and Air France Flight 447, Antonio Tajani and David-Maria Sassoli, Vice-Presidents of the European Parliament, highlighted the vulnerability of current air navigation systems that has hampered swift location of aircraft in distress, a shortcoming that has significantly hindered relief operations, and led to calls for action by the international community. Representatives of the Parliament, Commission, European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), EUROCONTROL, and various national air navigation service providers agreed on the imperative for action during the symposium, and underlined the critical role of satellite communication technologies for safer aviation services across the world.

The maturing of satellite-supported tracking solutions coincides with the aviation industry's need to show progress on safety, and provides a unique opportunity for action. But unless an ITU treaty-making conference in Geneva in November guarantees the radio spectrum to support these satellite services, their launch could be unnecessarily delayed to the detriment of air traffic control and the travelling public worldwide.

Vice-Presidents Tajani and Sassoli, and Rapporteur of the Single European Sky II+ Marian-Jean Marinescu MEP, therefore called upon their colleagues in the Parliament to ensure that the EU institutions and Member States support the necessary spectrum allocation in Geneva this November. “We need to adopt regulation and rules to benefit society, and as expeditiously as possible” said Mr Marinescu, closing the symposium.

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