The black box | Planet Ryan

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I waited until the last minute of this week’s early deadline to write my column because it evolves around yet another “missing” jumbo airliner in the same general area as the still “missing” MH370 flight that left 270 families wondering where their loved ones went.

As of this writing, AirAsia Flight 8501 has not been recovered.

Granted, only a couple of days have passed since air traffic control lost contact with the plane.

This time, there seems to be a logical explanation for the plane’s fate, due in part to monstrous storms interrupting the flight path over the Java Sea.

I expressed frustration to friends and family over the lack of being able to find these airliners in a timely manner and was quickly reminded that the ocean is a pretty big place.

I get that, I really do. But I feel terrible for families who are still dealing with the lack of closure from the disappearance of MH370.  And I fear we might have the same outcome for the latest incident.

So, my question is this: It’s 2014, we have literally made amazing advances in technology – why haven’t we redesigned the “black boxes” that record flight and cockpit data?

From what I’ve read, the average smart phone packs more technology in it than one of the most important pieces of equipment on a jumbo airliner.

The first counter to that question is that it’s cost-prohibitive. But I don’t buy that, and neither do many aviation industry experts. No one is asking that every black box in existence on every jumbo airliner be retro-fitted.

Why not look at upgrading units that fly regular routes over oceans and seas?

With the advancement of “cloud” storage, why aren’t critical flights that primarily travel ocean routes uploading data to satellites in addition to storing in an upgraded black box?

I’m not an aviation expert. I’m simply observing from the outside. But I’m absolutely not convinced, from a technology standpoint, that we can’t afford to make 21st century upgrades to something so important such as an airliner’s black box.

What say you?

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