Cost rows overshadow safety response to Malaysia jet disappearance

Sun May 11, 2014 12:54pm EDT
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* EU consultation papers show disputes over safety measures

* UN agency to consider steps to improve flight tracking

* Concerns over integrity of safety systems after MH370

By Tim Hepher

PARIS, May 11 (Reuters) - The United Nations is leading a high-level effort this week to improve the way aircraft are tracked to address public concerns over the disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet.

But the official response to missing Flight MH370 and a similar event in 2009 has already been clouded by rows between planemakers, airlines and pilots about costs and surveillance, new documents show, raising questions about how fast regulators can act.

Papers issued as a European agency toughened guidelines for black-box flight recorders last week show disputes about the economic and safety benefits, as manufacturers urged delay and pilots resisted pressure for more cockpit monitoring.

The European consultation process on black-box design is the latest case study of the conflicting interests that can arise whenever aviation safety is discussed internationally.

Experts say some of the same issues will be on regulators' minds when the U.N.'s International Civil Aviation Organization meets this week to discuss flight tracking - an issue which has seen limited progress since the loss of Air France Flight 447 in 2009.   Continued...