KUALA LUMPUR: It is possible to prevent what happened to Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 from happening again, a conference in Washington DC, US, has been told.
Daniel Baker, a panellist on a discussion on responding to aeronautical emergencies at the Satellite 2018 Conference and Exhibition, said the problem in cases like MH370 was the lack of a mechanism to swiftly respond rather than a technical deficiency.
Baker, the CEO of aviation tracking software and data services company FlightAware, was quoted by aviationtoday.com as saying: “If you don’t begin to react to it for a couple hours, you have a ‘pi-r-squared problem’.”
Baker said even if an aircraft’s last position was known before losing contact, additional time spent preparing to rescue it meant an exponential increase in the area it could have reached and, therefore, the area that needed searching.
That is why the remains of MH370, including its black box and the flight data recorder, have yet to be found, more than four years later, he added.
MH370, with 239 people on board, went missing on March 8, 2014, en route to Beijing. An official search coordinated by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau failed to find any wreckage.
In January, Putrajaya entered into an agreement with private firm Ocean Infinity to conduct an underwater search in an area considered the most likely location of the wreckage. The search continues.
Some media reports after the incident suggested that Malaysian authorities could have acted more swiftly.
Aviationtoday.com reported the panellists as agreeing that there was no good reason why tragic mysteries such as MH370, Air France flight 447 and EgyptAir flight 990 should still occur as the technology was now available to prevent or immediately track down and learn the cause of such disasters.
However, they said one of the major roadblocks to this happening was the competing agendas and viewpoints on how to go about achieving the goal.
Brian Pemberton, the vice-president of Iridium Communications, was quoted as saying: “It’s unfortunate, but this tech really does exist, it’s just the economic and bureaucratic challenge of getting everyone on board.
“When you’re trying to get… all the airlines around the world to commit their time and money towards it, especially when many of those guys will probably retire before they see the benefits, you’re facing a massive economic and operational challenge.”
Aviationtoday.com noted, however, that the International Civil Aviation Organisation had passed the Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System resolution which goes into effect this November.
Among its three primary requirements, according to Blue Sky Network president Gregoire Demory, are: the aircraft must report its position every 15 minutes and every minute in a distress situation; the system that does the reporting must be autonomous from the rest of the plane’s equipment, both to ensure that it is self-reliant in its function and to prevent tampering; and it must be a two-way system that can be activated by the pilot but only shut off by airline operations staff, again to protect against malicious actors.