20:48 GMT19 February 2020
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    A UN agency conference in Geneva, Switzerland has agreed on the protocol which will allow for live tracking on every aircraft in the world by the end of 2017, following the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 in 2014.

    Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, a Boeing 777-200ER aircraft departed from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, 2014 bound for Beijing. Less than 40 minutes after take-off air traffic controllers lost radar contact with the aircraft between Malaysia and Vietnam.

    Relatives of Chinese passengers on board the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 light candles in a prayer room in Beijing, China, Friday, April 4, 2014.
    © AP Photo / Ng Han Guan
    Relatives of Chinese passengers on board the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 light candles in a prayer room in Beijing, China, Friday, April 4, 2014.

    The main part of the airframe has never been found, but some parts from the aircraft have been washed up on the shores of the French island of Reunion, in the Indian Ocean. The aircraft is believed to have crashed killing all 227 passengers and 12 crew.

    The major issue is that the aircraft completely disappeared from ground-based radar and its flight path has never been accurately discovered.

    Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Water Entry of an Airliner
    Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Water Entry of an Airliner

    Britain first became involved soon after the flight disappeared when London-based communications company Inmarsat investigated the Doppler effect of the last available data received from the aircraft and suggested a probable target area for search in the Indian Ocean. 

    Australia continues to search a huge area of the Indian Ocean in an effort to find any trace of the aircraft, the parts of which have taken a year to be swept up to the Indian Ocean islands and which may hold a clue to the disappearance of MH370 last year.

    Communications specialist Hidetaka Sato on a Japan Coast Guard Gulfstream aircraft, looks out of a window searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Southern Indian Ocean, near Australia, Tuesday, April 1, 2014.
    © AP Photo / Rob Griffith
    Communications specialist Hidetaka Sato on a Japan Coast Guard Gulfstream aircraft, looks out of a window searching for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in Southern Indian Ocean, near Australia, Tuesday, April 1, 2014.

    The loss of MH370 was not the first 'disappearance'. Prior to this, in 2009, Air France flight 477 from Brazil to France was lost in the Atlantic Ocean. The aircraft's flight data recorders were only recovered after a two-year search.

    Satellite Solution

    The disappearances led to calls for live tracking — via satellite and other communications systems — so that every aircraft could be monitored live. Seventy percent of flights over oceans and mountains are not covered by ground radar.

    Sand sculpture made by Indian sand artist Sudersan Pattnaik with a message of prayers for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370
    © AFP 2019 / Asit Kumar
    Sand sculpture made by Indian sand artist Sudersan Pattnaik with a message of prayers for the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH370

    Aircraft currently send Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, or ADS-B, signals to ground stations, which limits coverage. However, an agreement has been reached at the United Nations World Radiocommunication Conference in Geneva that signals can be sent to satellites as well and the system could be in place as soon as the end of 2017.

    A statement from the UN said:

    "The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) announced today that frequency band 1087.7-1092.3 MHz has been allocated to the aeronautical mobile-satellite service, known as 'Earth-to-space', for reception by space stations of Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) emissions from aircraft transmitters."

    "This means ADS-B signals will be extending beyond line-of-sight to facilitate reporting the position of aircraft equipped with the signal anywhere in the world, including oceanic, polar and other remote areas," the UN said.

    Related:

    Windows, Seats of Alleged MH370 Flight Found on Reunion Island
    €100 Million Spent on Search for Missing Flight MH370 - ICAO Chief
    Missing Planes: UK's Inmarsat Says Live Flight Tracking Ready “In Weeks”
    Tags:
    telecommunications, disappearance, plane tracking, plane, crash, Flight MH370, United Nations, Europe, Geneva
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