News / Asia

How Can a Plane Be Lost?

How Can Officials Lose Track of an Airliner?i
|| 0:00:00
...  
🔇
X
Carla Babb
March 13, 2014 4:54 PM
Thursday marks the sixth day since Malaysia Airlines flight 370 disappeared with 239 passengers on board. VOA’s Carla Babb tells us more about the technology that can find, and lose track of, an aircraft.
VIDEO: Thursday marks the sixth day since Malaysia Airlines flight 370 disappeared with 239 passengers on board. VOA’s Carla Babb tells us more about the technology that can find, and lose track of, an aircraft.
Carla Babb
With satellites crisscrossing the globe and GPS technology available at the touch of a button in everything from cars to cell phones, how did officials lose a massive airplane?
 
Aviation safety consultant John McGraw says it’s easier than you think.
 
“People are under the impression that every airplane, even when it’s flying across the ocean, is observed on some kind of radar scope, with a human being looking at that scope. And it's just not the case. Radars don't reach that far,” said McGraw.
 
But McGraw also said that there is a lot of technology inside the missing Boeing 777 that helps pinpoint its location.
 
Systems in the jets automatically transmit altitude, weather conditions, position and speed of an aircraft to traffic control. There are also at least three ways the pilot can communicate with officials. If the plane is downed in the ocean, the flight data recorder, or “black box”, sends out a sound that is detectable up to three kilometers away.
 
Former FAA accident investigator Michael Daniel said there are also global regulations.
 
“The airline has responsibility for what we call ‘flight following.’ That’s an international standard and they are required to know where the airline is at all times,” said Daniel.
 
But in the case of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Daniel said, the airline hasn’t provided a great deal of information.
 
“The standards may not have been followed,” he said. “It’s very concerning because that’s an added piece of information that investigators can work with in determining hopefully the location of the aircraft.”
 
Rescue crews remain determined to locate the jet and its "black box" to try to find out what went wrong. After an AirFrance flight went missing in 2009, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board called for the continuous downloading of an aircraft’s flight data recorder information in case of emergencies.
 
“In the past they haven’t been able to justify installing that kind of equipment, because it’s expensive, and because there hadn’t been that many accidents where it would have come into play. This will certainly provide some additional motivation and there may be calls to do that,” said McGraw.
 
Those monitoring the skies and seas remain hopeful the missing airliner will soon be found.

You May Like

On Everest, Helicopters Rescue Stranded Climbers

Choppers transport some of more than 100 mountaineers trapped after deadly quake, avalanches More

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

In 2005, a Paris suburb exploded into violence after two teenagers were electrocuted as they hid from police; since then, somethings have changed, others not More

US, Japan Announce Historic Revision of Defense Cooperation Guidelines

Nations say new guidelines will be 'cornerstone for peace and security' in Asia-Pacific region while also serving as 'platform for a more stable international security environment' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: kyle from: US
March 14, 2014 7:30 AM
There is a sense that they are not telling us the full story. Some people are starting to speculate that they are hiding something from us.
In Response

by: mds from: usa
March 16, 2014 8:12 AM
Check N. Korea

by: Hannah Do from: Canada
March 13, 2014 2:40 PM
Well, it's a proof that human being are limited regardless how advanced we think we have been.
In Response

by: Sukey from: China
March 14, 2014 5:50 AM
Yes , Hannah ,you are right .But we also hope there is a magic

by: Not Again from: Canada
March 13, 2014 12:15 PM
This has been a very tragic event, our hearts go out to the families of the missing. The events of this disappearance, with out a trace, is very startling, especially given the massive involvement of modern forces, with some of the best equipment in the World, all efforts to no avail. I AM SPECULATING- the type of issues observed, loss of transponder, flight continued, potentially for 5 hrs, no pilot contact,etc. Potentially, a non catastrophic failure causing rapid decompression, in the area near/affecting the transducer, followed by the failure of the emergency oxygen system (for unknown reasons empty/wrong gas,..); causing crew loss. Upon the depressurization, the pilots would attempt a rapid descent, and an emergency return. Upon loss of crew abilities, the plane would continue, on auto-pilot, to fly until fuel run out. There was a previous similar such accident, many years ago, with a small plane, that flew many hours accross the US, until it run out of fuel and crashed. Sad sit.
In Response

by: LdyBug from: Philippines
March 16, 2014 10:42 AM
I think this is a high possibility, why can't the officials look into this angle knowing this kind of aircraft failure happened before. Terrorism is unlikely, I think. I can't imagine the degree of uncertainty and sadness among the family of those aboard the plane. If the plane crashed deep into the Indian Ocean, it might take years before the remains of the plane can be found, or will never be. But hoping for the best. I think all citizens of the world is affected by this incident.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europei
X
Henry Ridgwell
April 26, 2015 10:36 PM
Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video ‘Angel of the Migrants’ Helps Desperate Syrians Arriving in Europe

Waves of migrants are continuing to arrive on the shores of southern Italy from North Africa. After their dangerous journey across the Mediterranean, they face an unknown future in Europe. In the Sicilian city of Catania there is an activist dedicated to helping the refugees on their journey.
Video

Video Ten Years After Riots, France Searches for Answers to Neglected Suburbs

January’s terrorist attacks and fears of more to come are casting a spotlight on France’s neglected suburbs. Home to many immigrants, and sometimes hubs of crime, they were rocked by rioting a decade ago. Lisa Bryant visited the Paris suburb of Clichy-sous-Bois, where the 2005 violence first broke out, and has this report about what has changed and what has not.
Video

Video Gay Marriage Goes Before US Supreme Court

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on whether gay people have a constitutional right to marriage. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the case could lead to the nationwide legalization of same-sex marriage, or a continuation of the status quo in which individual states decide whether to recognize gay unions.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

VOA Blogs