Though the mystery behind the tragic disappearance of Malaysia Airlines MH370 on March 8 with 239 passengers and crew is yet to unfold, the tracking of flights has become a major concern in the aviation industry. A novel suggestion came from the United Nations International Telecommunications Union (ITU) as it bats for a real-time inflight communications system, drawing on new technology to help improve on the 50-year-old ‘black box' model.
According to ITU, there should be a mechanism to ensure that aircraft can be tracked in real time using state-of-the-art cloud computing.
Commenting on the new move, Mohan Ranganathan, a member of the Civil Aviation Safety Advisory Council said that there is an urgent need for all nations to implement the live streaming of vital data.
“The costs are high but the airlines and country should bear that in the interest of safety. The manufacturers need to bring in modifications so that vital recorders can never be deactivated in flight,” he pointed out.
Experts point out that with the advancements in information and communication technology it should be able to retrieve and analyse the data without necessarily locating the black box.
All commercial airlines and corporate aircraft are required to install and use ‘black boxes’ to track a number of flight parameters. The flight data recorder (FDR) is designed to record the operating data from an aircraft’s systems, including pressure altitude, airspeed, vertical acceleration, magnetic heading and position of control systems.
Cockpit Voice Recorders (CVRs) record what the crew say and monitor any sounds that occur within the cockpit. These monitoring equipment provide investigators with vital clues about the cause of an accident.
“ITU will invite all the stakeholders along with satellite operators and airlines to work on new standards to track aircraft in real time. A global solution should be developed to meet the challenge of tracking an aircraft. This will be a huge step in the interest of passengers and operators to further increase safety in the air,” a communication from ITU stated.