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

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    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.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora