A simple computer upgrade that cost Malaysia Airlines $10 per flight could have sent searchers to the area in which the plane went down 11 days ago, but the company chose not to go forward with it.
According to a satellite industry official familiar with the equipment, the data provided includes altitude, direction, and speed even after all other communications with the plane were turned off.
As the mystery of what happened to Malaysia Airlines MH370 deepens with no sign of the aircraft and authorities in Malaysia seemingly lost with no leads, more information keeps surfacing surrounding the ill-fated flight.
Remember the case of Air France Flight 447 in 2009? The plane crashed in the Atlantic Ocean while en route from Brazil to Paris and it took search crews five days to find the area in which the plane went down.
That aircraft was equipped with the technology — which could have aided in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 — and sent those looking to an area measuring about 40 miles in the Atlantic.
In the aftermath of the disappearance of Flight 370, the search has gone from the South China Sea, the Strait of Malacca, the Indian Ocean and anywhere in between.
Information obtained — painstakingly slow one might add — has been all over the place from day one and has sent the multi-national force looking for any remnants of the missing airliner on a wild goose chase.
However, with the use of technology, the search has been reportedly narrowed to a much smaller area than the original 2.24 million square nautical miles of the Indian Ocean encompassing the west coast of Malaysia to the waters off Perth, Australia.
Recent reports indicate that American and British officials are focusing the search area for the Malaysia Airlines missing plane to two possible — much smaller — paths heading toward the South Pole and ending off of Australia.
Could Malaysian authorities have come to that conclusion earlier if the plane was equipped with an updated tracking device?
We may never know, but it seems impossible to believe that the massive Malaysian airliner simply disappeared without a trace, even as theories about pilot involvement — which are only speculation at this point — keep developing and terrorism seems less and less likely as no organization has claimed responsibility.
Investigators have concluded that the transponder was turned off — by the pilot or a hijacker — to avoid radar detection, as well as the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS). With the equipment upgrade, the plane could have continued to send information on engine performance, fuel consumption, speed, altitude, and direction, the Washington Post reports.
The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is fast becoming the biggest aviation mystery ever, because of the difficulty in finding any of the wreckage to date and the circumstances surrounding the last moments of the missing airliner.
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