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

Elusive Deal With Iran Could Yield Foreign Policy Legacy for Obama

A new Iranian leader -- and a strategic shift by the United States -- opens narrow window for nuclear agreement with Tehran More

Column: Saudi-Iran Meeting Could Boost Fight Against Islamic State

The fact that Iranians and Saudis are talking again does not guarantee a breakthrough, but it could make it easier to build a broad coalition against IS More

Thai Ruler Gives Top Cabinet Posts to Junta Inner Circle

Thailand's army chief has kept an iron grip on power as he extends the government, hand-picking an interim parliament that subsequently nominated him prime minister 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.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid