KUALA LUMPUR, May 1 – The communication and multimedia ministry and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) will organise an expert dialogue on real time monitoring of flight data from May 26-27 here. In a press statement published on its website, www.itu.int the ITU said the dialogue was organised, following a call by the minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek during the ITU World Telecommunications Development Conference in Dubai last month. At the conference, he called on the ITU to develop cutting edge technology to facilitate transmission of flight data in real time, especially in cases like the mysterious disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 aircraft. The statement said the impetus for the event was the complex investigation into the disappearance of MH370 which departed Kuala Lumpur on March 8, this year.

“The difficulties surrounding the search for the aircraft have highlighted the need to improve the identification and tracking of commercial aircraft in flight,” it added. The statement also quoted Ahmad Shabery as saying, Malaysia wished to contribute towards this international effort to find solutions to track commercial aircraft in real time. “We are confident that this will ultimately result in a concrete outcome. We are still searching for MH370, more than seven weeks after the dissapearance of the aircraft. “This work may not help us locate our aircraft or its black boxes. But we hope that with these measures, no other country, people or family will ever have to go through what we are now enduring,” said Ahmad Shabery. ITU secretary-general Hamadoun I. Toure said, as the multi-nation search for the missing aircraft continued, immediate steps must be undertaken at the international level to increase efficiency in the tracking of the aircraft.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families affected by the deeply troubling disappearance of Flight MH370. This event (dialogue) will serve to accelerate ongoing efforts to achieve consensus on real time tracking solutions for the aviation industry,” he added. Flight MH370 with 239 people on board left the KL International Airport at 12.41 am on March 8 and disappeared from radar screens about an hour later while over the South China Sea. It was to have arrived in Beijing at 6.30am the same day.

A multinational search was mounted for the Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, first in the South China Sea and then, after it was learnt that the plane had veered off course, and its flight path ended in the southern Indian Ocean. The statement said, information and communication technologies (ICT) were instrumental to the safe and efficient operation of tens of thousands of flights daily. “Modern technology solutions could aid in monitoring the location of aircraft, thereby improving the efficiency with which authorities launch rescue efforts in emergency situations, for instance, by leveraging cloud and big data analytics,” it added. This first meeting of experts is expected to draw up a map that will chart the way forward in terms of coordination with the various stakeholders to seek ICT solutions for the real time tracking of flight data, it further said.

The statement said, ongoing discussion at various levels and on a range of platforms, was considering the feasibility of streaming flight data from aircraft to the ground in real time. Subjects debated within this discussion included the geographical coverage of proposed monitoring systems, the type of data to be transmitted to the ground and the required transmission rates, data security, storage and analytics, ownership of flight data, and the cost and changes to business models required to implement such systems on a global scale, it added. The meeting will be an invitation-only meeting and invitees include representatives from ICT solution providers, airlines, international organisations, satellite and avionics companies, terrestrial solution providers and the government.