March 8, 2017 marked the three-year anniversary of one of the most high-profile aviation mysteries of all time – the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
While speculation has been rife, no concrete evidence has ever been able to shed a light on exactly what happened, something that the British Airline Pilots’ Association (BALPA) say shouldn’t be possible in modern day aviation.
The multinational search for the aircraft and its data recorders was the largest and most expensive in aviation history.
BALPA says, despite today’s technology, it can take a long time to recover the part of the aircraft equipment which holds all the vital information – the black boxes – or, in the case of MH370, they may not be found at all.
Flight MH370 brought more attention to the limitations of black boxes, namely the limited data storage and finite battery life and signal distance of the ULBs attached to them.
BALPA has renewed its calls for better technology to aid the search of missing aircraft, something it says will not only help give answers to the families of victims, but will also give the aviation industry information to ensure safety is improved.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) have already announced that as of 2021 aircraft must have technology installed that transmit their position more regularly and do so even more frequently when they are in distress.
However, BALPA says the retro-fitting of older aircraft should also be considered.
BALPA Flight Safety Specialist, Steve Landells, said: “We don’t believe it should be possible, in this day and age, to lose an aircraft.
“The announcement from ICAO is welcome but if these systems are only fitted on new aircraft it will be many years before the majority of planes will have this technology.
“Whilst ICAO have provided a small incentive to operators to retro-fit a distress tracking system BALPA believes that there should be a mandatory system in place that will allow the exact location of any aircraft experiencing an emergency to be known.
“Thankfully, accidents are very rare, but black boxes sinking to the bottom of the sea with the airframe delays potentially life-saving recommendations, and leaves the families waiting on the answers they so desperately need.”