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This is the strongest regulatory reaction we’ve seen since the disappearance of the MH370, but will likely only be the first of a number of new laws created to help ensure the situation never happens again.
European safety regulators proposed extending the battery life and range of aircraft recording devices, reacting to the unsuccessful hunt for the Malaysian plane that disappeared without a trace two months ago.
The new European Aviation Safety Agency requirements will triple the transmission time of underwater locating devices to 90 days from 30, the Cologne, Germany-based organization said in a statement today. Equipment on larger jets flying overseas should also have a greater range or be more accurate, EASA said.
The search for the Malaysian passenger jet has become the longest in modern aviation history and includes submarines to dive deep into the Indian Ocean, the suspected final resting place of the Boeing 777. No debris has been sighted, and the flight-data and voice recorders stored in the aircraft would provide the most valuable clues to the disappearance.
“Safety can never be taken for granted,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said in the statement. “The proposed changes are expected to increase safety by facilitating the recovery of information by safety investigation authorities.”
Jets flying over oceans should be equipped with recorders with a longer locating range or a device that can determine the location of an accident within 6 nautical miles (6.9 miles). Cockpit voice recorders should also be required to keep a minimum of 20 hours of tape, 10 times the amount stored today, EASA said.
While both Malaysia and China have vowed to continue with the hunt, only a limited amount of equipment worldwide is up to the task of finding the Malaysian Airline System Bhd. plane. Possible pings from the so-called black boxes have long stopped, forcing search troops to comb the seabed with remote submarines in search of possible debris.
Once adopted by the European Commission, the rules will apply to all jets and helicopters registered in an EASA member state.
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