The International Air Transport Association (IATA), stressing the need for a global, coordinated approach, will convene a task force to examine aircraft tracking in the wake of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370’s disappearance and deliver a report by year end.

“In a world where our every move seems to be tracked, there is disbelief both that an aircraft could simply disappear and that the ‘black box’ is so difficult to recover,” IATA CEO Tony Tyler told an industry operations conference in Kuala Lumpur Tuesday. “Air France 447 brought similar issues to light a few years ago and some progress was made. That must be accelerated.”

The probe into the June 2009 Air France 447 accident, in which an A330 went down in a remote part of the Atlantic Ocean, included prolonged, expensive searches for wreckage and the aircraft’s flight data recorder—as well as several mandates. Among them: longer-duration pingers on data and voice recorders mounted on Euorpean-registered aircraft starting in 2020. Industry also studied deployable flight recorders and real-time data streaming from aircraft, no mandates came as a result.

The inability to locate MH370 or understand why it went missing has triggered calls to take a closer look at these and related issues. Tyler says the most prudent way is via the International Civil Aviation Organization to ensure a globally acceptable approach. 

“In our eagerness to move this along, we must also ensure that prudent decisions are made in line with global standards,” he says. “This is not the time for hastily prepared sales pitches or regional solutions. The [ICAO] process is the way to move this forward....Industry must and will play a role in supporting ICAO in this effort with a united position.”

Meanwhile, the Flight Safety Foundation (FSF) called on industry and civil aviation authorities to convene for a symposium to discuss technology and the “need to incorporate practical in-flight aircraft monitoring and communications systems” to help track commercial aircraft.  

“Given existing technology, we simply should not be losing contact with aircraft for unknown reasons,” says FSF acting president and CEO Kenneth Hylander.