Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 disappeared on March 8 — over eight months ago — and it seems that authorities are no closer to finding the wreckage now than they were then. Obviously the airliner needs to be found, both to provide closure to families and to determine the cause of the accident so that such losses can be prevented in the future. Yet authorities continue to struggle in determining where even to look for the wreckage.
One aspect of the incident that has drawn justifiable criticism and even disbelief among many is that such a large jetliner could fly unnoticed, unchecked, and untracked, potentially over such a great distance. In response to this, government officials and industry leaders reportedly are calling for common sense improvements. Specifically, according to recent news reports, anticipated new standards will require airlines to report their location every fifteen minutes, increasing to every one minute if the airline is off its projected course. Airlines will be allowed a year to comply.
Most commercial flights are tracked via ground-based radar, and the new requirements will not affect those flights. But, for flights such as Malaysia 370, which travel over water or uninhabited land where there is no ground-based radar, the new standards will enable real-time tracking of the planes – something that, unbelievably, doesn’t exist now despite the availability of technology to do it. Unfortunately, it took the tragedy of Malaysia 370 for common sense to prevail. Hopefully the new standards will improve worldwide flight tracking and prevent another commercial aircraft like Malaysia 370 from disappearing without a trace.