Mar 11 2014, 5:00am CDT | by Forbes
The anguish for relatives of passengers could not be greater. Not knowing the fate of their loved ones. Fearing the worst and yet holding out for hope. All because the aircraft has not been found. And why in this day of GPS and all manner of tracking can’t it be located immediately, let alone days later?
The truth is that there are many areas in the world that are not covered by radar. And many more that are covered only by a single radar station. Oceans and seas have particularly sketchy radar coverage because there is no place to put the radar. Space-based radars are not available for civilian aircraft. Navigation systems on the aircraft know where the aircraft is located –via GPS – but do not broadcast that information back to ground stations.
In terms of finding the aircraft, if it crashed in the middle of the South China Sea, any emergency transmitters on board would emit frequencies that travel well through the air but not very well through water. The black boxes emit a sound signal that travels well under water but the distance the sound travels is also limited when you consider the vastness of the South China Sea.
There are technologies available –some of which are space-based – that have been considered for a number of years but have not been implemented that would address this problem. This accident may drive a re-newed interest in use of that technology which I would certainly welcome.
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Source: Forbes Business
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