There’s no small amount of irony in today’s announcement that the search for MH370 has officially been called off nearly three years after that Boeing 777 disappeared on a flight from Kuala Lampur to Beijing and the accolades being shared at Aireon HQ in McLean Virginia over Saturday’s successful orbiting of 10 Iridium satellites needed to begin creating the first global aircraft tracking network.
The idea of knowing exactly where on earth the airplanes we purchase tickets on are actually located at any given point in time is a no-brainer conceptually. In fact, if you tell international travelers that while over the ocean or in remote areas of the planet, their airline has only the tiniest notion of their airplanes precise location, they’re shocked. The airlines essentially know where their aircraft should be, but as we’ve seen with the loss of MH370, the words “should” and “are” translate into two very different views of the aviation world.
So thank goodness for Aireon’s foresightedness back in 2011 to begin the effort to create the network that’s expected to be operational by summer 2018.
And no thank you at all to most of the airlines around the world that have not lifted one finger to improve the tracking of their airplanes since the loss of MH370. Sure there have been meetings and proclamations and opportunities through companies like Inmarsat and FLYHT, and certainly ICAO jumped in to the discussions, but not many airlines actually signed up to use any of the tracking technologies.
The reason was simple, money … the airlines couldn’t justify the cost to their shareholders. But let’s be patient and not forget that the poor airlines must make money to stay in business.
I guess some of traveling bumpkins are still naive enough though, to think that the airlines that are all too happy to grab our money, might also be thinking that looking after us a bit more when we’re their prisoner, sorry, I mean guest, might actually turn into a little value added service.
Rob Mark, Publisher