The notion that a $250 million, state-of-the-art Boeing 777-200ER could vanish without a trace seemed ludicrous until March 8, when Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) dropped from Malaysian radar screens in the middle of the night over the Gulf of Thailand. At first incomprehensible, the reality of loss hit home when after 30, 60, 100 days, no trace of the aircraft had been found despite a massive search, estimated to be the most expensive to date. While passengers on long-haul aircraft might have expected that air traffic control and airlines could keep tabs on modern machines the way FedEx or UPS tracks packages, the hard reality is that they do not. There are a variety of reasons, but all come across as excuses after MH370. Now IATA and ICAO are on a path to correct the situation in a logical and orderly fashion with a slate of near, mid- and long-term initiatives to make sure aircraft cannot be lost without a trace. Executive Editor Jim Mathews discussed the action with me (Aviation Week & Space Technology senior editor for Avionics and Safety) and Air Transport World senior editor, Aaron Karp. Listen and weigh in with your opinions.
For detailed background and a look at technologies that may aid airlines in the tracking endeavor, see Aviation Week's feature package on Global Tracking in August 4 issue, including the cover story: After MH370, Flight-Tracking Again Tops Airline Agenda.