There’s a tremendous tendency to overreact to aviation disasters. Sometimes the public/media latches on to an initial theory of what happened, and there are occasions in which “easy fixes” are advocated thereby getting substantial momentum. The below article intelligently analyzes the reactions to MH 370 and QZ8501. This case confirms that there is some value to sound cost/benefit analyses.
Both tragic accidents involved the loss of sophisticated aircraft in a blind spot of the airlines tracking system—the vast expanses of ocean for which there is no radar coverage. Once the airplanes sank, the ability of the search crews to find the remnants of the crash via the emergency locator transmitter is diminished or defeated.
There may be technology which will provide universal coverage of all flights around the globe, but at what cost and for what benefit? The studies and the author acknowledge that the associated expenses are high. Equally importantly, NextGen and SESAR both require substantial investment in equipment with high value to the passengers, the FAA/EASA (Eurocontrol) and the airlines. The next dollars to be spent should be directed to purchases with measurable, substantial benefits.
There have been two sad occasions in which crashes occurred in one of the ATC blind spots. The statistical analyses confirm that prospectively there is little likelihood of reoccurrence. The cost/benefit case has not been made on an international stage.
Aviation aspires to 100% achievement of safety, in so doing the industry must be judicious in prioritizing the added equipment designed to enhance its performance.
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