News / Asia

Global Airline Industry Begins Study to Prevent MH370 Repeat

FILE - Japan Coast Guard's Gulfstream V aircraft flies in the search zone for debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
FILE - Japan Coast Guard's Gulfstream V aircraft flies in the search zone for debris from the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Global airlines are studying how to prevent a repeat of last month's disappearance of a Malaysia Airlines plane, one of more than 80 aircraft to vanish in flight since the mid-20th century.
The International Air Transport Association, which represents 240 airlines, said last week it is creating a panel to examine how to improve real-time aircraft tracking. IATA plans to make recommendations by the end of this year.
In an interview with VOA, Washington-based IATA spokesman Perry Flint said the trade group is consulting experts from airlines, aircraft manufacturers and systems makers, search and rescue organizations, and the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization.
"This sort of task force may be unique," Flint said. "But, the air transport industry also has organized international meetings in the past to address specific challenges."
How the study will unfold
Flint said the new panel will focus on real-time tracking of aircraft, rather than streaming of flight performance data for aircraft systems. He said any proposed improvements would not be likely to involve installing entirely new systems on planes.
Flint also said there is no guarantee about what will happen to IATA's recommendations. As an industry group, it can appeal for action but cannot mandate any steps by national or international authorities.
"Our main goal is to never be in a situation where we don't know where an airplane is," Flint said. "There are about 100,000 flights a day, and almost every day, every one of them ends on a runway somewhere. In situations where a flight does not end on a runway, we want to know where it is."
Such situations have arisen before.
History of aircraft disappearances
A Netherlands-based aviation accident database has recorded 88 cases of missing planes since World War II.
The Aviation Safety Network said 62 of them involve aircraft vanishing over water, as happened to Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on March 8.
Lead database manager Harro Ranter said most disappearances at sea appear to have involved aircraft running out of fuel or suffering engine problems.
He said most of the other planes went missing over mountainous terrain, leading authorities to assume they were flying too low or caught in poor weather.
Ranter, who also serves as an adviser to the Dutch government, said the disappearance of MH370 stands out from the other cases in several ways.
What makes MH370 unique?
He said first and foremost, the case involves the highest number of people ever to be lost on a missing aircraft. The Malaysia Airlines plane was carrying 239 passengers and crew on a flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.
The previous record for people lost on a missing plane was set on March 16, 1962, when a U.S. military charter flight carrying 107 people, mostly soldiers, vanished over the Pacific Ocean on a flight from Guam to the Philippines.
Ranter also said most the 88 missing plane cases happened in the 1960s and 1970s.
"In those days, navigation equipment and satellite coverage were nonexistent or not as advanced as they are today," he said. "The Boeing 777 involved in MH370 had a very high safety standard, was considered very reliable, and was operated by an airline also considered very safe and reliable."
Ranter said almost all of the disappearances in more recent decades involve cargo aircraft and relatively small private planes, rather than commercial passenger flights.
Error rendering storify.

Michael Lipin

Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

You May Like

Guatemala Mudslide Death Toll Rises to 86

Death toll is expected to continue to rise as emergency crews dig through tons of earth for an estimated 350 people still missing More

Debris Found in Search for Missing Ship

Objects located Sunday have not yet been confirmed to be from the 240 meter container ship, El Faro, which disappeared in the eye of Hurricane Joaquin, according to US Coast Guard More

Survivor: Gunman Spared 'Lucky One' to Give Police Message

Law enforcement official says a manifesto of several pages was recovered; contents not revealed More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Jerry from: Denver
April 11, 2014 4:33 PM
It seems to me that creating a tamper-proof system that transmits realtime data cannot be that hard. Included within that system is equipment that transmits while in flight and then, to cut down on storage, that data is archived and/or deleted when a signal is sent that it has safely reached its destination. All done automatically and tracked minute by minute. Very rough idea but you get the picture. I am so surprised that in this day in age, tracking planes has so many weaknesses!!

by: Lou from: Atlanta
April 11, 2014 8:11 AM
Hardwiring the transponders "always on" would be a great start!

by: abdub from: marsabit
April 11, 2014 5:29 AM
its pilot error may b he had bad day wid his wife

by: Nicholas Akuamoah-Boateng from: Kumasi-Ghana
April 11, 2014 4:58 AM
It sounds good! Should I remind that it should cover the pilots also?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs