Friday, June 05, 2009

Brazilian Plane Update

I'm prompted to post by the most recent news--that the debris collected from the Atlantic Ocean is not from the airliner which went down.  

I was surprised initially when I heard that they did not know--at all--where and when the plane had gone down.  I'm familiar with the constant tracking of our domestic flights, and the handoff from one controller group to another, and I thought the same happened on intercontinental flights.  Apparently this capability does not exist today.   They still don't know where the aircraft went down, so it seems unlikely they will find the "black box" flight recorder anytime soon, and so we may never know what actually happened. 

I think this is a major issue for security, and practically an invitation to terrorists to create an act occurring in the untracked parts of our oceans (if, in fact, this event was itself an accident, as one would assume--perhaps wrongly!)  Furthermore, interviews with pilots and others have revealed that this area has frequent, massive, dangerous storms--so this is not necessarily a freak occurrence.  

There would seem to be two solutions:  either improve ground-based tracking (stations on islands in the oceans) or develop satellite-based tracking.  I'm not a fan of the idea that every little thing needs to be tracked all the time, but these are civilian aircraft with hundreds of people on them who deserve every consideration for their safety. 

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