Malaysian Airlines has suffered another catastrophe. That’s two in one year. This time we know where the plane ended up, but we know nothing about the circumstances of the crash as yet. It takes months to extract data from the flight data recorders.
Why do we not stream flight data and cockpit recordings to the ground, in real time, as the flight progresses? We have the technology to flawlessly stream high definition movies and television over the internet, to millions of homes at the same time; we have boxes in our cars that show us a picture of the road ahead while a voice tells us where to turn. It should be child’s play to transmit an audio stream and a fairly limited data stream from a few hundred commercial airliners via ground stations and satellite. The advantages would be enormous. For one thing, ground controllers who have lost an aircraft on radar could immediately access the flight data to locate the missing flight and perhaps rescue survivors of a crash before they die of old age, waiting for some bloggers to find wreckage on a crowd sourced satellite image search.
I’m not saying we should get rid of the traditional black boxes, the analog information is far superior to digital recordings, but only if you can recover them. In the case of flight MH370 it looks as though the black boxes will never be found. Could it be possible that I am the only person on Earth who thought of this idea?