In an exclusive interview with MH370Latest, a spokesman from the European Aviation Safety Agency [EASA] confirmed that commercial air regulations have been revised following the disappearance of MH370, but only for airlines based in the European Union.
“This regulation introduces two new paragraphs in the air operation rules applicable to large aeroplanes of operators based in EU Member States,” said Dominque Fouda, EASA’s Head of Communication and Quality in an email.
The first paragraph adds a requirement for operators to install an aircraft tracking system by December 16, 2018. “Flights shall be tracked by the operator from take-off to landing,” the regulation states.
The second paragraph requires that aircraft should be equipped with “robust and automatic means” to accurately determine where an aircraft is damaged and where it is located in the event of an incident.
The data could be used in real-time by investigators on the ground instead of the current system of locating the cockpit voice and data recorders within wreckage and then analyzing the data, a lengthy and time-consuming process.
The process is compounded in cases when the data recorders are damaged or not located within the specified timeframe, like the case of Air France flight 447.
Both requirements apply only to operators who have their main place of business in one of 28 EU member states and “some states which take part in the European Free Trade Association: Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein,” said Fouda.
More requirements enacted in May 2014 include an extension of the transmission time of underwater locator beacons from 30 days to 90 days. Another requirement calls for an extension of the recording duration of cockpit voice recorders from two hours today to twenty hours in the future.
“The tragic flight of Malaysia Airlines MH370 demonstrates that safety cannot be taken for granted,” EASA’s Executive Director Patrick Ky said at the time. “The proposed changes are expected to increase safety by facilitating the recovery of information by safety investigation authorities.”
Fouda echoed this message more than two years later, saying EASA acted swiftly because MH370 reminds us that safety can never be taken for granted. “MH370, like all airline tragedies, remind us that safety can never be taken for granted. This is why we were particularly active to make sure that Opinion 1, 2014 was published as soon as possible.”
EASA also revealed how digital data transmission is already being used for air to ground communications to supplement voice transmissions. “Digital data can be transmitted using the same channels as voice: for example VHF, HF, satellite,” he said.
Currently, many modern jetliners, including the one being used to operate MH370, use a system to transmit messages digitally called the Automatic Communications Addressing and Reporting System, known as ACARS.
In the aftermath of MH370, data provided by ACARS played a significant role in locating an approximate location of the missing jet, a Boeing 777-200ER. The primary ACARS system on MH370 was infamously switched off but a secondary system still attempted to log on to an Inmarsat satellite every hour because the plane still had power.