[BRUSSELS] The European Union on Wednesday adopted new rules on plane tracking, which could prove key to preventing a repeat of the mysterious disappearance of flight MH370 in March 2014.
"The new rules will improve the tracking of European aircrafts and the location of an aircraft in distress anywhere in the world," the European Commission, the bloc's executive arm, said in a statement.
"In case of an accident over water, they will also allow for a quick localisation of the wreckage and a swift recovery of the data contained in the flight recorders." The rules will be implemented progressively, and will be enforced for all EU passenger planes carrying more than 19 people and weighing over 27 tonnes, as well as transport planes weighing over 45.5 tonnes.
"Newly manufactured large aeroplanes are to be equipped 'with robust and automatic means' to accurately locate the end point of flight following an accident in which the aeroplane is severely damaged. This is to prevent the disappearance of an aeroplane where all communications and its track are lost abruptly," the statement said.
Flight recorders are to be improved under the new rules, and "the recording length of the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) will be extended from 2 hours to 25 hours," it added.
A global deal was struck in November to use satellites to track flights.
The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which took off from Kuala Lumpur on March 8, 2014 with 239 passengers and crew on board, remains one of aviation's greatest mysteries.
Malaysia earlier this year confirmed that a wing part found on the French island of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean was from the plane. But no further wreckage has been found, despite an intensive Australian-led search.