Not much is known about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, but this much is irrefutable: it has raised myriad questions. They range from whether - in 2014 - aviation should accept the fact that a modern airliner can simply drop off the grid, to how well governments cooperate to reach a common goal like finding a missing commercial airplane with nationals from dozen or more countries onboard.
The March 17 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology takes a look at some of the bigger-picture issues, including the status and potential of improved real-time situational awareness on airliners.
In this week's episode of Aviation Week's Check 6 podcast, I talked with a panel of our Aviation Week experts about this topic and several others. Fred George, our chief aircraft evaluation pilot, walks through the 777's routine communications capabilities, how they can be disconnected, and how aircraft are tracked. He also weighs in on government cooperation - or lack thereof - in pooling resources to shed light on the MAS370 mystery. Our senior editor Guy Norris, who has extensive propulsion knowledge and is our resident Boeing expert, adds perspective on what kind of data can come off an aircraft that has been cut off from the commercial ATC grid. Executive editor of AWIN, Jim Mathews, who counts "trained air search planner" as one of his useful skills when he's outside the newsroom, sets up the immense challenge of searching for something when you have a good idea where it is, let alone when you're guessing.
Have a listen--then have your say below.
(Audio) engineering note: Folks, this was a multi-location effort from San Diego to London. We know there are sound issues and we're working on improving them for future podcasts. Thank you for your understanding.