Business jet makers want out of U.N. aircraft tracking plan

Reuters News
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Posted: Feb 03, 2015 7:09 PM

By Allison Lampert

MONTREAL (Reuters) - Business jets, which mostly carry the rich and powerful, should not be subject to a United Nations proposal to require plane makers to install costly equipment that would better track aircraft, an industry group said on Tuesday.

The U.N.'s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has proposed fitting commercial jets with ejectable flight recorders and wants them to report their positions more frequently. The goal is to help rescuers find missing planes more quickly.

The International Business Aviation Council, which represents business jet makers, said the plan should not apply to jets with 19 or fewer passenger seats.

"When they spend their safety dollars, they really want value for money,” said Peter Ingleton, director of the group's ICAO liaison office.

"There doesn’t seem to be value for money, safety-wise, in diverting safety expenditures away from traditional areas into things like tracking and deployables," he told Reuters on the sidelines of a global safety meeting.

A draft of the tracking plan released before the conference did not include the exemption, but in a presentation on Tuesday ICAO's Secretariat said it should only apply to planes with a take-off mass of more than 27,000 kg and with more than 19 seats. That detail, like the rest of the plan, will need to be approved by ICAO's governing council after the conference.

Ingleton said the added cost of installing new safety devices are more easily defrayed on larger commercial planes than on a small business jet where the expense would be spread over a smaller number of passengers.

"It’s a huge cost that would push up the cost of the airplane to the customer."

ICAO's new safety proposals come after the disappearance of a Malaysian airliner last March.

Global aviation leaders are gathered in Montreal to push for new standards in tracking aircraft. The new guidelines call for a combination of regular tracking in normal flight and accelerated signals whenever an aircraft flying over oceans or deserted areas gets into trouble.

(Editing by David Gregorio and Paul Tait)