ITU Commits To Update Airline Communications

Malaysian minister says in age of big data and cloud, black box search should not be necessary
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The International Telecommunication Union said it will be asking satellite companies, airlines and others to come up with flight recorder standards to track aircraft in real time.

That request came at the opening of the ITU World Telecommunications Development Conference in Dubai April 1, and at the urging of Malaysian minister for communications and multimedia Ahmad Shabery Cheek, who said searching for a black box in the age of cloud computing and big data should be a thing of the past.

"I believe that this simple change may have brought a different outcome today."

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, which disappeared March 8, is still missing as search teams try to find the black box containing flight data before the batteries run out.

"In this context, I cannot help but note that while communications technologies have evolved drastically in the past five years, the story of the black box remains unchanged from 30 years ago," he said. “I urge ITU to work with industry to develop a better way to constantly monitor flight data and what is happening in the cockpit. With the advancements in ICT today, we should be able to retrieve and analyze this data without necessarily locating the black box."

ITU secretary-general Hamadoun Touré committed ITU to the search for a real-time inflight communications system. “We must ensure that aircraft can be tracked in real time so that such an unprecedented and tragic incident does not occur again," he said. "ITU is committed to work on the standards that will take advantage of big data and state-of-the-art cloud computing.”

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