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A Qatar Airways Airbus A 340 airplane leaves contrails in the clear sky of Altenmarkt Zauchensee on January 11, 2014/AFP

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IATA says aviation safety remains high

A Qatar Airways Airbus A 340 airplane leaves contrails in the clear sky of Altenmarkt Zauchensee on January 11, 2014/AFP

A Qatar Airways Airbus A 340 airplane leaves contrails in the clear sky of Altenmarkt Zauchensee on January 11, 2014/AFP

DOHA, June 3 – Safety in global aviation remains high, the International Air Transport Association said Tuesday, as it seeks to improve in flight tracking after the disappearance of a Malaysian passenger jet in March.

There were 0.34 accidents per million flights in the first four months of 2014 compared with 0.32 over the preceding five years, IATA said at its annual general meeting in Doha, Qatar.

“The preliminary rate for the industry as a whole (including non-IATA airlines) is performing strongly,” with 0.29 accidents per million flights in January-April against 0.48 in the previous five years, it said.

IATA groups 242 airlines representing 84 percent of global air traffic.

Its statement noted that the industry recorded three accidents between January and April, including the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

“Aviation stakeholders are united in their desire to ensure that we never face another situation where an aircraft simply disappears,” said Kevin Hiatt, senior vice president at IATA’s Safety and Flight Operations department.

MH370 disappeared on March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people aboard. An extensive search in the Indian Ocean has been unable to locate the plane.

An IATA taskforce on in-flight tracking, formed by the UN’s aviation agency, the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), is to present its findings in September.

“While states work through ICAO to develop and implement performance based global standards, the industry is committed to moving forward with recommendations that airlines can implement now,” said Hiatt.

He acknowledged, however, that airlines alone can decide if they want to implement such standards.

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Meanwhile the company specialising in air transport communications and information technology SITA announced in Doha plans to introduce a new aircraft tracking device.

“The solution, which is currently being evaluated by several airlines for testing, will utilise technology that is already installed in the aircraft to provide advanced tracking capabilities,” a statement said.

It said the system known as “SITA AIRCOM Server Flight Tracker solution” will alert airline flight dispatchers “to unexpected aircraft movements” it said.

According to its designers, “the solution does not call for extensive additional cost or investment by the airlines” as it relies on a system that is already installed in many aircraft.

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