I haven’t had much to say on the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, because I’ve got no particular aerospace expertise and thus had nothing useful to add to the speculation. But I do know something about modern telecommunications, and so all this talk about attempting to track the plane via pings and other automated transmissions to various satellite and ground-based receivers, got me thinking: in this day of on-board WiFI Internet connections, why are we still relying solely on an aircraft’s “black box” for a record of its final minutes or hours?
This instrument data is simply too important to be left at the bottom of a deep-sea trench, so why isn’t it constantly being transmitted real time via satellite as a kind of off-site backup? Cockpit voice recordings too. All of it compressed and securely encrypted. With no means of turning off the transmission. The technology is there. The satellites are there. Isn’t this a totally obvious solution?
Am I missing something here? Are there any experts out there who can explain why we don’t already do this?
It wouldn’t take much more than the whim of federal and international regulators to mandate this virtual black box on all modern jetliners. And given the low cost of telecommunications technology, it wouldn’t add much to the cost of flying. But it would provide closure for the families of victims of future crashes, as well as valuable data on how to prevent a repeat.