If you are in the commercial aviation industry, there really is only one news story this week.
One week after the baffling disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 en-route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, the location of the Boeing 777 and its 239 passengers and crew is still unknown.
There has but much confusion regarding the ‘facts’ surrounding the flight. The aircraft last made contact with air-traffic control over the South China Sea to the east of Malaysia, but information about the type of communications received, the aircraft’s estimated heading, even the basic timeline of events, have all been subject to significant changes this week.
The fact that two passengers were travelling on stolen passports was identified relatively quickly and, although the security services are satisfied that the two people in question did not pose a threat, it has highlighted a potential weakness within the industry which, no doubt, will be studied more closely in due course. One potential concern that hasn’t been publicly addressed yet is what type of cargo was on board the aircraft. At the time of writing, no official comment has been made about whether any dangerous goods were being carried on board the flight, but at this stage, the only thing that really matters is finding the aircraft and reducing the burden on the families of those who are missing.
It appears the industry is facing an unprecedented set of circumstances for modern times and it would seem likely that, whatever the outcome of this worrying event, it will lead to a step-change in how commercial aircraft are tracked en-route. I suspect we will see the most fundamental change in on-board equipment since the introduction of the cockpit voice recorder in the 1970s.