(Adds context on extension of cockpit voice recordings)
By Allison Lampert
MONTREAL, March 7 (Reuters) - The U.N.’s aviation agency on Monday announced new requirements for the real-time tracking of civilian aircraft in distress, following the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 two years ago.
The International Civil Aviation Organization’s governing council approved proposals for planes to carry tracking devices that can transmit their location at least once a minute in cases of distress. Plane operators will have to ensure their flight recorder data is recoverable, while the duration of cockpit voice recordings is being extended from two to 25 hours, ICAO said.
The requirements for the one-minute tracking and flight recorder data are performance-based, meaning individual airlines and plane-makers can choose the best option for them, from among existing and emerging technologies, ICAO said.
The changes will take effect between now and 2021.
Last year Malaysia called for real-time aircraft tracking to become a priority for the aviation industry following the loss of MH370. The flight disappeared on March 8, 2014 shortly after taking off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing with 239 people aboard.
“Taken together, these new provisions will ensure that in the case of an accident the location of the site will be known immediately to within six nautical miles, and that investigators will be able to access the aircraft’s flight recorder data promptly and reliably,” said ICAO Council President Olumuyiwa Benard Aliu in the statement.
“They will also contribute to greatly improved and more cost-effective search and rescue operations.”
Two years after the tragedy, MH370 has still not been found. On Monday, Malaysia was investigating a second piece of debris found on the small Indian Ocean island of Reunion, suspected to be from the plane.
So far, only a piece of wing, known as a flaperon, discovered in July last year has been confirmed by authorities to belong to the missing Boeing 777.
Reporting By Allison Lampert; Editing by Chris Reese