CHENNAI: Placing the mysterious disappearance of MH370 and AirAsia’s ‘missing’ QZ8051 in the same year could prod one to believe that this is civil aviation’s worst year in its annals. But, statistics beg to differ. Though the fate of the 162 lives on board the AirAsia plane is still unknown, the year has been better than the decade’s average - with only 526 fatalities (239 of these deaths were a result of MH370’s disappearance in the expanse of the Indian Ocean) from 19 accidents in 2014.
When compared with the decade’s average of 676 fatalities from 32 accidents, it’s certainly an improvement of sorts.
Despite newer Airbuses and Boeing planes having sophisticated communication systems, low cost carriers have been known to opt for minimal systems, at times.
An Air Traffic Controller who has been working with Air Navigation Systems for close to 20 years said, “When you’re 250-300 kms out on sea, there’s no radar coverage, so the only communication link is either through VHF or HF - both of which can fail under given conditions. Most new planes are fitted with data links, but AirAsia doesn’t have them on the ones that fly to Chennai, so I doubt they would have installed it in the one that has gone missing.”
Incidentally, out of the 151 accidents reported in 2014, 16 involved Boeing planes and Airbus planes numbered 8 - most of them Airbus A320s, including the one that’s gone missing.