Pilots renew calls for tracking on aircraft

Pilots renew calls for tracking on aircraft

Pilots have renewed a call for improved tracking on all aircraft on yesterday’s three-year anniversary of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

No concrete evidence has ever been able to confirm what happened to the Boeing 777, something that the British Airline Pilots’ Association says should not be possible in modern day aviation.

Latest speculation suggests a mysterious extra passenger possibly took control of the cockpit before plunging the aircraft into the Indian Ocean while it was on a service from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

The multinational search for the aircraft, believed to be carrying 239 passengers and crew, and its data recorders was the largest and most expensive in aviation history.

A lawsuit filed against Boeing in a US District Court in South Carolina, names seven malfunctions, from an electrical fire to depressurisation of the aircraft’s cabin, that could have led to the crew losing consciousness, the 777’s transponder stopping its transmission and the aircraft flying undetected until it crashed after running out of fuel.

The suit was filed by Gregory Keith, a special administrator for families who lost loved ones on the flight. It names 44 victims as plaintiffs.

Despite today’s technology, it can take a long time to recover the part of the aircraft equipment which holds all the vital information – the black boxes – or, in the case of MH370, they may not be found at all.

Flight MH370 brought more attention to the limitations of black boxes, namely the limited data storage and finite battery life and signal distance of the undewater locator beacons attached to them, according to Balpa.

The pilot’s association renewed its calls for better technology to aid the search of missing aircraft, something it says will not only help give answers to the families of victims, but will also give the aviation industry information to ensure safety is improved.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation has already announced that aircraft must have technology installed that transmit their position more regularly from 2021 and do so even more frequently when they are in distress.

But Balpa says retro-fitting of older aircraft should also be considered.

Balpa flight safety specialist, Steve Landells, said: “We don’t believe it should be possible, in this day and age, to lose an aircraft.

“The announcement from Icao is welcome but if these systems are only fitted on new aircraft it will be many years before the majority of planes will have this technology.

“Whilst Icao have provided a small incentive to operators to retro-fit a distress tracking system Balpa believes that there should be a mandatory system in place that will allow the exact location of any aircraft experiencing an emergency to be known.

“Thankfully, accidents are very rare, but black boxes sinking to the bottom of the sea with the airframe delays potentially life-saving recommendations, and leaves the families waiting on the answers they so desperately need.”

A Boeing spokesman told MailOnline it does not comment on pending lawsuits but the company said its thoughts remained with the people who died on Flight MH370.


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