U.S. rep to miss key meeting to improve international flight tracking

Relatives of Chinese passengers on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 cry outside the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing, China in March (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Relatives of Chinese passengers on board Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 cry outside the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing, China in March (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

The International Civil Aviation Organization, a U.N. organization that deals with air safety and security and coordinates international aviation standards, is meeting next week in Montreal to talk about improving tracking technology  for airliners  – something that would help locate flights that go missing, such as Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 or the 2009 crash of Air France Flight 447, found after a two-year search.

ICAO’s also been looking at boosting the chances of finding those black (really orange) boxes, such as boosting their battery power and increasing the range of the pings they emit. There is also talk of having the boxes float after a crash. (A source says Air Force One apparently has that technology. Checking with the White House.)

But there is no confirmed U.S. official as representative to the organization to lead the U.S. delegation — although U.S. officials, folks from the Federal Aviation Administration, and so on, will be there.  The nominee to be U.S. representative is Obama mega-bundler Michael Lawson, a former head of the Los Angeles board of airports commissioners who was nominated last year.

In this case, he’s not a hostage in the partisan standoff in the Senate on nominees. He’s still awaiting a vote  in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. We’re hearing he’s going to be confirmed but there were some policy questions raised in committee that needed to be addressed.

Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.
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Al Kamen | May 8