National / Technology

Deal at UN meeting opens way for satellite tracking of jets

A Malaysia Airlines ground staff walks past a taxied aircraft on the tarmac of Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. A Russian state-controlled missile-maker said Tuesday its investigation of last year's crash of a Malaysia Airlines plane over rebel eastern Ukraine contradicts conclusions from a Dutch probe. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)

A Malaysia Airlines ground staff walks past a taxied aircraft on the tarmac of Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang, Malaysia, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. A Russian state-controlled missile-maker said Tuesday its investigation of last year’s crash of a Malaysia Airlines plane over rebel eastern Ukraine contradicts conclusions from a Dutch probe. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)

GENEVA (AP) — Motivated by the mystery disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines jetliner last year, nations have set aside radio frequencies so that airplanes can be tracked by satellite — not just from the ground.

The agreement to set aside the frequency 1087.7-1092.3 MHz band in essence paves the way for planes that already send signals to ground stations to direct those signals toward space too.

The accord was announced Wednesday at a Geneva conference organized by U.N. communications agency ITU. Civil aviation regulator ICAO has expressed support for the idea, as long as current safety measures aren’t jeopardized.

The March 2014 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 370 with 239 people on board exposed weaknesses in worldwide air navigation systems. Debris from the Boeing 777 was found in the Indian Ocean in July.

 

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