Flight 370 Could Spur Airline Safety Changes
The mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 has left the families distraught over the lack of answers as to how an aircraft apparently disappeared and left no traces of its location. The only potential clues are allegedly in Australia, where authorities are poring over potential debris from the aircraft. While the disappearance of the plane, which was routed to travel from Kuala Lampur to Beijing on March 8, is tragic, it may also help to spur airline safety changes to prevent future crashes or disappearances.
Cameras, Longer-Life Batteries, Real-Time Streaming, and Satellite Uplinking Safety Upgrades
Safety experts have proffered several solutions to preventing a similar tragedy, including cameras in the cockpits to record every second of the action. However, some pilots and their unions have expressed disapproval and an invasion of privacy about having big brother in the sky as they navigate. The National Transportation Safety Board has for years advocated for on-board cockpit video with little success. Unions for pilots say that having a camera on-board would affect pilots’ ability to perform. Other safety suggestions include:
- Longer battery life on locator beacons: locator beacons on flight recorders help to locate lost aircraft. Unfortunately, two weeks have already passed since the disappearance of Flight 370, meaning half of the battery life on the locator beacon is gone. Although the data on the device is not destroyed after the battery dies, it makes it excruciatingly difficult to locate the device when the battery dies. Extending the battery life on locator beacons would prevent this problem, but this is still in the process of becoming a reality.
- Uplinking Information from Plane to Satellite: although planes contain computer chips to record information on a flight, this information will be destroyed if the plane lands in a body of water. The National Transportation Safety Board has advocated uploading information retrieved from the computer chips to satellites to prevent the loss of such crucial information in the case of a plane crash. Although it would be pricey, it could save money in the long-run as it could save millions of dollars in operations to recover onboard flight devices. However, critics sight high costs, limited bandwidth, security concerns and privacy issues as to why this isn’t a good idea.
- Real-time Streaming of Flight Information: others have also suggested that real-time streaming of flight information, including when something goes wrong during a flight. Again, the main hindrance to this safety solution is cost–a typical installation would cost $100,000, which most airlines could recoup in a matter of months. However, some experts say that airlines are just too cost-sensitive and will not take lightly to even this amount of money to improve safety.
As the search for Flight 370 continues, it will be interesting to see how this tragic disaster will affect future flight safety features. Hopefully, the families of those on Flight 370 will soon receive a conclusive answer as to the location of the airplane and their loved ones.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.