Monday, June 01, 2009
RADAR??? SO LAST CENTURY
This is not a matter for jokes:
Reports are that a French plane disappeared over the ocean when it was out of radar range; they didn't notice the problem for hours, and they can't find it. Even though it did send an automated text message (wow!) that it had electrical problems. (I hope they know -knew- exactly when that was sent. Did they respond immediately? Or wait several hours 'til the plane did not re-appear on schedule on the radar?)
I find it hard to believe that it is not possible for every airplane to be connected by satellite in real time with a control center. It should have GPS contact. The whole "black box" should be communicating in real time, not some lame text message. If there is a problem on board, knowledge of the problem and backup support should be immediate.
Radar has its value, but there are other technologies that make world-wide communication instantaneous. I do not understand why they are not ubiquitously deployed.
For that matter, reports have suggested the plane was travelling through a region with brutal storms. With world-wide satellite coverage, and the possibility of sensors all over, it does not make sense that a plane should be allowed to go into a region with murderous weather conditions.
As a side note, I once (only once) long ago flew a particular airline (which will not be named) in which the movie was shown by way of a super-8 projector on board. The film suddenly became abstract, with an interesting design starting in the center of the screen and then growing. The stewardess fortunately ripped the burning film out of the projector before the fire spread.
They don't use film in a projector anymore to show movies. They should not rely on last century's technology for airplane safety anymore, either.