May 13, 2014 8:19 PM– Crews are battling rough conditions as they continue to search for the missing Malaysian airliner.
Satellite tracking companies are looking at ways to improve tracking methods for planes flying out of radar range.
Bluefin 21 smashed into the Australian vessel Ocean Shield, losing a day in the search. The underwater vehicle had its propeller torn, tail ripped off and electronics bay damaged on its first day back in the search zone.
Struggling with wind and 3′ to 5′ waves, the damage happened as crews hoisted it on deck for inspection. The day’s mission was aborted and no data was collected.
The Bluefin was repaired and resumed its search within hours.
Half a world away, the consensus is never again. In a bid to prevent another Flight 370, the International Civil Aviation Organization, the aviation arm of the United Nations, said all jetliners should be tracked continuously, especially in the most remote parts of the world.
By the end of the year, airlines with international flights will voluntarily start this global tracking. Some have already started, but there’s no timeline for when binding standards and regulations mandating global flight tracking will go into effect.
“We feel that it is fairly important factor that we’re moving as quickly as possible because the flying public deserves to have even more safe conditions when they fly,” said Kevin Hiatt, International Air Transportation Association senior vice president of safety and flight operations.
The group’s recommendations are advisory but usually become law. The ongoing mystery of Flight 370 is fueling urgency to act now.
Satellite tracking companies are jockeying for favor among airlines. Immarsat, the British company whose analysis led crews to the search zone, said they’ll track planes for free. Competing companies like Globalstar are making a pitch too.
“You can continuously track one second at a time for continuously across any trip and know exactly where an airplane is. That is invaluable, and in the case of 370, it would have told us whether the plane turned, whether the plane continued straight and when it stopped emitting all together,” said Jay Monroe, CEO and chairman of Globalstar.
There’s still no concrete evidence about what went wrong onboard Flight 370, but its disappearance is about to change the way all planes in the air are tracked.
A special task force will release recommendations for global flight tracking in another four months. Flights are tracked now using radar, satellite technology and position reports, but there are dead spots when it comes to those methods. The task force is working on global tracking that would work even if planes are over the Indian Ocean and out of radar’s reach.