Lessons from the disappearance of flight MH370

Well, it is almost a month since flight MH370 disappeared and yet as of today (6th April 2014) we do not know what happened to the flight or where it is. The disappearance of flight MH370 has now become a “case study” for students around the world. There are lots of discussions happening on this topic. The discussion is cenetered around the point – “what could be done to prevent another similar incident”. Here is a list of things that we came up from what we know. We are not veteran or trained Pilots or Aviation Gurus but a bunch of computer programmers using common sense. The case of MH370 caught our attention because of the inability to find what happened to it by the People, Organizations and Governments involved in it.

1). The operation of transponders – Aviation experts say that transponders are those equipments that keeps the aircraft visible to controllers on the ground. A good aircraft designer or manufacturer will never want this equipment to be switched ‘off’ especially in a civilian aircraft or flights that transport passengers. Aircraft manufacturers like Boeing, Airbus etc should rethink about the role of transponders in a civilian aircraft getting switched ‘off’. Transponders should be a standard item. Pilots or technicians or even laymen should not be provided with the ability to switch it ‘on’ or ‘off’.

2). The same goes with CVR (Cockpit Voice Recorder). They say that the Cockpit Voice Recorder can be switched ‘off’. We think that this should not be allowed. Also, we heard that the CVR can record only the last 2 hour of the flight. This has to change and the CVR should be made in such a way to record the conversation inside the cockpit for the entire duration of the flight – The flight could be for 1 hour or 10 hour duration. CVRs should have the capability to record the entire duration of the flight.

Another issue that need to be sorted out is – the current scenario of hunting for black boxes has to stop. If a Blackbox cannot be traced for a crashed aircraft then nobody in this world knows what happened to that aircraft. We are in the age of Information Technology and the design should in such a way that a copy of the Blackbox (CVR and FDR) should be downloaded to the aircraft operator’s headquarters or base station every 30 minutes after a flight has departed. So, when a flight disappears, people on the ground has something to start with and then, the hunt for Blackbox can continue. For example: In case of MH370, had the design been the way that we have mentioned above, investigators on the ground would have had a backup of the Blackbox (FDR and CVR) for 5.5 hrs of the flight (assuming that the flight crashed after 5.5 hrs). Right now, investigators still do not know where to search for the disappeared aircraft. Data storage these days is cheap and it doesn’t cost much for an airline to store the backup files of CVRs of all its flights currently in air.

3). Currently, (from what I read) after a flight departs an airport there is no facility at the airline base station to constantly monitor the flight. This has to change and every flight has to be tracked real time. So, when a flight deviates from the pre-planned route, the base station has to question the Captain of the flight. They have to ask immediately – “Captain, what is going on”. The age of worshiping the Captain of a flight has to stop, and he or she should be constantly monitored during the flight.

So, those were some of our suggestions. If any of you have better suggestions then please do not hesitate to post your comments. This is year 2014 and we feel sorry to say that the Aviation sector around the world is using security design and practices from the Stone Age – the Aviation sector is yet to use Information Technology even to the “minimum”.

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