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The $100,000 Device That Could Have Solved Missing Plane Mystery 461

Posted by timothy
from the no-need-for-you-to-miss-a-minute-of-the-agonizing-holocaust dept.
First time accepted submitter evidencebase writes "How can an airliner simply disappear, leaving no clues? And why do we have to wait until the black boxes are found to learn what happened to Flight MH370? As this article explains, there's no good reason that flight data needs to go down with the plane, because the technology to stream it to ground, from the moment things start to go wrong, is already on the market. It can be fitted to a commercial airliner for less than $100,000. But the industry has decided that it's not worth the expense. Tell that the the families of passengers on Flight MH370."
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The $100,000 Device That Could Have Solved Missing Plane Mystery

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  • by jonwil (467024) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @07:28PM (#46459163)

    Or does it cost $100k PLUS the cost of labor and maintanence to install the device PLUS the huge cost of taking the plane out of service for x amount of time while the device is being installed (even if its installed at the same time as other maintanence is done, its still a non-zero cost)

    • by Spazmania (174582)

      Yeah, it really costs $100k. Custom Iridium devices of this character aren't terribly expensive, on the order of $500k to $1M to design and $5k-$10k each to manufacture in small quantities. The rest is the cost of putting it on the plane, maintaining it and paying for satellite service.

      Iridium is an LEO satellite constellation. You only send the radio signal a few hundred miles, you you can basically point an antenna generically at the sky and talk. It doesn't require the kind of complex engineering that ta

      • by geekoid (135745)

        100K? no, it's not a lot of money when looking at the cost of an airplane.
        Ticket increase might have been pennies.

      • Nevertheless, $100k is a lot of money...

        True, $100K may be a lot of money, if it's the price you pay to put a device into your $10K car.

        But we are talking about a jet plane that is worth $100M and up.

        What is the ratio of $100K to the original plane pricetag of $100M ? 1: 1000

        Allow me to put it in the context of your car - Let's say your car's price tag is $10K, What will that device cost you, if it's 1000th of your car ? $10 ??

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by icebike (68054)

        Wait, the sat service is already in place. You are simply talking about another data channel interleaved on the existing data channels these planes already stream back to the airlines and to Boeing/Airbus.

        If airlines are going to start feeding passengers internet access they surely have time to insert a few OOB packets for event recording. I believe some of this is part of ACAS data streams.

        The flight in question had GPS tracking for flight arrival information.
        It went dead the same time as everything els

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by gnupun (752725)

        Nevertheless, $100k is a lot of money. Would the passengers have been willing to pay more for the tickets so that their loved ones would have a slightly better idea where they crashed? Probably not.

        No, $100k is not a lot of money. Consider just the fuel cost: 10 hours flying time by a Boeing 747 consumes 36,000 gallons of fuel [howstuffworks.com]. That's around $100k or more.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Alex Zepeda (10955)

        The slashvertisement did mention the technology used in AF 447: ACARS. MH 370 may have been equipped with ACARS as well, but if it was, it would not be transmitting via satellite as there is no sat antenna on the vanished plane (9M-MRO). In fact, Malaysia Air has been pretty cagey about whether or not 9M-MRO had ACARS. If 9M-MRO *did* have ACARS installed, and the information *could have been* received/recorded there's still the question of whether or not Malaysia Air was paying for upkeep. If Malaysia

    • by khallow (566160)
      It's also another thing to break which will keep the plane from flying. Also, what happens if the network goes down? Do we keep planes from flying until it comes back up?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mythosaz (572040)

        Should we remove radios and radar and GPS from the planes too? After all, they're just another thing that can break.

        • by khallow (566160)

          Should we remove radios and radar and GPS from the planes too?

          Some planes in the US don't fly with any of that stuff. But in cases where those items are mandatory (which I gather is the case for commercial flight), then you don't fly when that equipment is broken.

          • by mythosaz (572040)

            Great.

            Should we remove that equipment, or are we better off with it?

            • by khallow (566160)

              Should we remove that equipment, or are we better off with it?

              That's the question that should be asked about any such equipment. We have both costs and benefits more or less laid out. The benefit is that it provides better information for the times that planes are lost - when it works. And costs are that it's another critical piece of gear that has to work in order for the plane to fly. That's not just a $100k one time cost.

    • The cost is because it is "on an airplane" meaning it needs to be certified by FAA and other alphabet soup agencies around the world. And forget about firmware updates...

    • by hey! (33014) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @08:21PM (#46459651) Homepage Journal

      What does it matter, on a plane like the 777 that costs $260 to $377 *million* dollars to acquire? That's less than 4 hundreths of a percent of the acquisition cost. 100K$ is peanuts on the scale of costs it takes to acquire and operate a large airliner.

      And since it is not, strictly speaking, a piece of *safety* equipment, there's no need to take planes out of service to install it. Just require it on new planes, and maybe retrofit existing large airliners when they're down for major maintenance.

      It seems likely to me that the probably reason this device isn't required is engineering conservatism. Before something like this is required, you have to convince people that (a) it's a good idea, and (b) this is a good implementation of that good idea.

      • by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @10:34PM (#46460501)

        What does it matter, on a plane like the 777 that costs $260 to $377 *million* dollars to acquire? That's less than 4 hundreths of a percent of the acquisition cost. 100K$ is peanuts on the scale of costs it takes to acquire and operate a large airliner.

        Costs to acquire are often not the highest costs. Same with this, it may cost $100K to purchase, but how much to keep running?

        I read the article, the technology is flawed in two ways.
        1, it depends on the instrumentation or pilots detecting something going wrong. One of the leading theories in the AF447 accident was that an instrument was reporting incorrectly.
        2. it depends on satellite communication (which isn't cheap) and MH370 disappeared from RADAR and radio communications. What makes you think a dial on demand satellite connection would work.

        Besides this, much like the summary the article is full of half baked assumptions, attacks on the aviation industry, emotive language and thought terminating cliche's in the place of fact or at least tests and results. The aviation industry rejected their devices before because they dont add any real value due to the flaws I mentioned above. They are essentially trying to use a tragedy to sell something of dubious value whilst people are too emotional to think critically. I think FLYHT are scum.

  • not worth it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rcarsey (158673) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @07:29PM (#46459181)

    black boxes are almost always recovered. the only thing it would save is a big oceanic search -- how often does that happen?

    • I also wonder what prevented the COSPAS-SARSAT system from helping in this case. Or is it just that they don't equip the planes with these beacons? That would seem strange to me.
      • COSPAS-SARSAT is not useful unless the aircraft ELT is activated (manually or automatically), intact, and and above ground/water. The aircraft ELT is not active/visible and the crew never called mayday, squawked 7500 (hijacked), 7600 (radio failure) or 7700 (emergency). That's why this is quite a mystery.

    • Re:not worth it (Score:4, Insightful)

      by quenda (644621) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @07:35PM (#46459257)

      Yeah, that $100k is per aircraft. So two billion dollars for the world's commercial fleets. (around 20,000 jetliners)
      That's makes the search and recovery of black boxes look cheap. Very rarely is one lost permanently.

      • by geekoid (135745)

        NO IT DOES NOT. Does no one here have a grasp of basic business accounting, and large numbers?

        It cost 500K to fill at 747 with fuel.
        This devices would be a 1 time 100k cost spread out of 30 years, and be paid for by millins and million of tickets.

        • by uncqual (836337)

          The systems will require maintenance, periodic testing, and failure diagnosis. Also, it's likely that some sort of upgrades would be required over a 30 year service period.

          Deploying these widely would also require maintaining the Iridium system indefinitely (rarely is a "safety feature" eliminated once instituted).

          Characterizing it as "one time only" cost is not accurate although I have no idea what recurring costs would be.

        • Re:not worth it (Score:5, Insightful)

          by quenda (644621) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @09:14PM (#46460045)

          We are not saying it is unaffordable.
          We say the cost exceeds the very rare benefits.

    • how often does that happen?

      About every five years, apparently.

    • by ron_ivi (607351)

      black boxes are almost always recovered

      Except when planes crash?

      Seems the 9/11 planes' were lost too. http://911research.wtc7.net/pl... [wtc7.net]

      • by mythosaz (572040)

        Those boxes might have been lost, but you couldn't possibly have picked a less credible site.

        • by Cederic (9623)

          Plus, technically they weren't lost. We know where they ended up. In landfill.

          I mean, in the wreckage of the two-towers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by amicusNYCL (1538833)

        Seems the 9/11 planes' were lost too.

        Damnit. Just think, if we would have recovered that equipment then we could have figured out why the planes crashed.

      • Flight data and cockpit voice recorders are only ever recovered when the plane crashes. "Recovering" them before then is called "maintenance."

    • by geekoid (135745)

      The cost of recovery is more then the cost of one of these. Here is a novel idea, what is it was live and we didn't need to recover, faulty, black boxes anymore?

  • Lat / Long? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @07:30PM (#46459189)
    I can see how a constant stream of telemetry might be cost-prohibitive, but what about a squirt of data consisting of -

    - Flight Number
    - Lat / Long
    - Airspeed
    - Groundspeed
    - Altitude
    - Compass heeding

    ...sent every five minutes? At least that would give a 'last known' location.
    • by dbarron (286)

      That's very doable and could probably be put in one or maybe a couple of packets of data. Given that I know nothing specifically about airplane systems, still one would expect you could install a stand alone black box that gathers and transmits this data w/o even integrating it into any systems besides onboard power. Relative compass heading and airspeed are easily derivable from last GPS positions. I can't understand why it would REQUIRE 100K per plane to do this.

      • by TWX (665546)
        One could even integrate this kind of thing into the mesh network concept, where aircraft and ground stations simply routinely exchange their data as a sort of near-field-communication thing for the skies.

        It could work along the same lines as the early shared-bandwidth ethernet model:
        • Plane, on takeoff and once away from range of the airport (which could be a predetermined value and could even be unique to any given airport) starts listening, and starts a random count to transmit (like the CSMA/CD negoti
    • Re:Lat / Long? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lesincompetent (2836253) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @07:35PM (#46459261)
      Couldn't simply ACARS be adapted to do this?
    • by amicusNYCL (1538833) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @07:35PM (#46459263)

      Something like that already exists [wikipedia.org].

    • They already do that. That system failed for an unknown reason.

      Also, at 900fps, a jet travels in the neighborhood of 50 miles just between 5 minute beacons. It's better than nothing, but a 50 mi x N mi grid search of the ocean floor is pretty much a non-starter in most areas of the globe.

    • by x0ra (1249540)
      Because it already exist. That's how you can follow a plane travel from sitting comfortably in your couch surfing the internet. The real problem appears where the uplink to the ground is broken and the plane "crash".
    • Fine, as long as we don't make it a *general* policy to adopt Steve Ballmer's jargon [seattlepi.com].

  • snark (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @07:32PM (#46459205)

    Tell that the the families of passengers on Flight MH370.

    Why, would that somehow bring them back to life?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Cryacin (657549)
      You obviously don't know about the concept of closure, or care enough about someone else to care about it.
      • Re:snark (Score:5, Informative)

        by mjwx (966435) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @10:52PM (#46460591)

        You obviously don't know about the concept of closure, or care enough about someone else to care about it.

        Because some company using a tragedy to peddle their wares that have dubious value and are not even remotely guaranteed to work is closer.

        Pot, meed kettle.

        FLYHT are scum. Their products have been rejected by the aviation industry because they don't add value but add additional cost (satellite data connections aren't cheap), are just as prone to failure as current methods (relies on instrumentation or manual activation) and have additional points of failure (a dial on demand satellite connection, when a flight disappears from radar and the pilots cannot be raised on the radio and the transponder is gone... WTF makes me think a dial on demand satellite connection will work). And now they're using a tragedy to try to peddle their crud.

        I read the article, it's nothing but attacks on the aviation industry and badly used thought terminating cliche's like "tell that to the families". Its the kind of thing an angry pre-pubescent child would write when their parents ground them.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @07:34PM (#46459231) Journal
    As much as penny-pinching on safety systems is a bad habit, is the emotive "zOMG, Tell the Families!!!" really the best argument that there is for these systems?

    It's been what, over three days now, with an aircraft that disappeared from radar at commercial cruising altitude without so much as a burst of garbled obscenities from the flight crew. Do you think that your family is clinging to those little flotation-device pillows, awaiting a rescue that would have come in time if only for upgraded real-time blackbox transmission?

    If anybody derives some sort of comfort from whatever they do manage to find, all the better; but this is all trying to recover data for failure analysis, not survivors.

    Now, if you want to justify real-time transmission, check out the amount of (incidentally not paid for by the airline) search gear that has been diverted from Malaysian, Chinese, and other sources to looking for the debris. Whole bunch of ships, airplane and helicopter overflights, diversion of what, 10 satellites? That starts to make the $100k look like savings.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by i.r.id10t (595143)

      Part of these resources are being provided by people or organizations or governments who just want to Do The Right Thing.

      Some more of these resources are being provided by those who see others Doing The Right Thing and thinking to themselves that "gee, if A can do it I should do it to show I'm just as good at DTRT as them".

      And the last little bit are doing it for a positive karma, so they can get away with Something Bad later on...

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jittles (1613415)

        Part of these resources are being provided by people or organizations or governments who just want to Do The Right Thing.

        Some more of these resources are being provided by those who see others Doing The Right Thing and thinking to themselves that "gee, if A can do it I should do it to show I'm just as good at DTRT as them".

        And the last little bit are doing it for a positive karma, so they can get away with Something Bad later on...

        A positive motivation for "doing the right thing" is the fact that these military crews have to stay proficient at their job. These emergency situations give them practice for the real world without having the dull feeling of a drill. Not to mention the fact that they would have spent the money flying those helicopters, planes, and sailing those ships regardless. The real question of cost is whether they were diverted from another mission of value, or whether they were just sitting in the south China sea

  • Knowing the airlines it would somehow be permanently added to the plane ticket price....
    Given the number of unrecovered flight recorders [wikipedia.org] and the amount of time that list has been growing and the risks of being involved in a plane crash vs a car crash(no black box) [usatoday.com]
    Since prices are already seem pretty high for me for those cramped seats, I think I side with "the industry" on this one.

  • by DriedClexler (814907) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @07:35PM (#46459249)

    Tell that the the families of passengers on Flight MH370."

    Oy gevalt! This again? When minimizing risk, you have to invest where you get the best returns in lives saved. Obviously, in retrospect, after an accident, you'll wish you had spent infinity on having more safety, but that's the wrong way to think about it.

    You should instead:

    1) figure out how much you're willing to spend per statistical life saved

    2) deploy safety measures up to that point

    It's not always going to make sense to keep throwing on all kinds of safety equipment simply to handle every black swan event you can think of -- remember, they do log airplane location remotely and continuously; it's just that that still wasn't enough in this case.

    You might as well advocate that planes start giving everyone a parachute, without realizing it makes flight so unaffordable as to push people to less safe modes of transportation.

    Comments like these promote a worse understanding of the issues.

    • by mrbene (1380531)

      I came here to harp on the same things as many other posters have already said. DriedClexler says it best so far.

      There are at minimum 20k planes [airliners.net], but possibly up to 100k. Let's estimate that half of 20k planes have this installed, at an expenditure of one trillion dollars.

      This would result in this particular flight having a 50% chance of having a bit of extra information about where it crashed.

      Sounds like a pretty expensive method for retrieving dead bodies. But then, I've always wanted to be buri

      • There are at minimum 20k planes, but possibly up to 100k. Let's estimate that half of 20k planes have this installed, at an expenditure of one trillion dollars.

        You're off by a factor of a thousand here -- 10k * $100k is $1 billion, not $1 trillion. According to the article, ongoing costs would be in the hundreds of millions per year per airline, so a rough order-of-magnitude estimate might be $1 billion per year.

        Worth it? Maybe. I'd like to see some examples of where a system like this would have actually saved some lives first -- the article doesn't give any. After all, there's an awful lot of things you can do for $1 billion a year that are more likely to sa

  • Rolls Royce does this with their engines. They get real time telemetry whenever the engine is running.

    • by nojayuk (567177)

      The ACARS only transmits in bursts while the plane is in flight, usually when there's been a change to the engine settings or operating conditions. Data transmission to satellites necessary for trans-oceanic flights costs money on a per-packet basis so there's no continuous data streaming. I think they log more data and dump it at the end of the flight once the plane's on the ground.

  • by innocent_white_lamb (151825) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @07:37PM (#46459275)

    This $100,000 gadget doesn't do continuous data transmission. It starts transmitting when something goes wrong, and that's it.

    If something does go wrong and there's time for this thing to start transmitting, then wouldn't there also be time for the pilot (copilot, navigator, stewardess) to get on the radio and say "Hello, chaps on the ground. Something has gone wrong."

    If it blows up in mid-air or something like that, you won't get anything more with this device than you get without it.

    What do you gain for $100,000, then?

    • "It starts transmitting when something goes wrong"

      In theory it might start transmitting when something goes wrong, but clearly things can "go wrong" that would also prevent the start of the transmission. For example, if a couple of hijackers steal a plane and fly it to Thailand, they will turn off the device around the same time that they turn off the transponder. And just diverting the plane to a different location isn't likely to be detected as "something going wrong" to start the data transmission a

  • by Overzeetop (214511) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @07:37PM (#46459281) Journal

    The fine article states that L-3 (who has a bit of a conflict of interest) says that streaming all data real-time would cost $300M/yr. The mfr of the "glass box" says it wouldn't stream data until there was an anomalous event, and so it wouldn't cost nearly that much.

    Who's right? Well, TFA states "Of course, that wouldn’t yield much information if a plane is blown out of the sky by a bomb, or suffers a sudden catastrophic structural failure at cruising altitude. But in those rare cases, conventional black boxes are really the only viable technology."

    So you either stream data all the time, or you miss the really crazy disappearances. Which is exactly the ones you WANT this data from. So to the families of passengers of MH370 - we don't know where your plane is because we didn't spend billions of dollars to equip every plane and then spend an extra $300Million a year to run the system.

    Oh, and since the transponder that relays back basic information failed on this flight, there's a chance that whatever took it out would have also taken out the full-data relay, and after spending all those billions of dollars we might *still* not be able to find it.

  • US $100,000 per plane x how many planes?

    I think I could just barely provide a water-tight homing beacon with redundant power sources at, say, a million a dozen.... which leaves room for campaign contributions to secure the contracts.

  • Right now it seems that the plane might have been flown off course and the transponder was shut down. The thing about the black box is that apparently is hard if not impossible to shut down. Anything that transmits can be disabled. There is reason to believe that such a device would have done any good in this case, This is just another effort by some corporation to try to sell a movie plot security measure. Like arming pilots when locking the cockpit door would do or naked scanners instead of trained s
    • by PPH (736903)

      Many aircraft of this class are equipped with an ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter). These are difficult, if not impossible to disable in flight, as they are mounted remotely from the cockpit and are self powered. They can fail under certain circumstances. They may not activate if the aircraft impacts the ground. Or if it sinks immediately, carrying the ELT down with it.

      I am wondering about the current status of ELTs following the fire in a parked 787 caused by a wiring fault in one. Was there an order p

  • by tipo159 (1151047) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @07:44PM (#46459343)

    "Of course, that wouldn’t yield much information if a plane is blown out of the sky by a bomb, or suffers a sudden catastrophic structural failure at cruising altitude. But in those rare cases, conventional black boxes are really the only viable technology."

    MH370 was sending data when it disappeared. The ADS-B data can be found on FlightRadar 24. Rolls Royce indicated that it was receiving ACARS data from the engines.

    All of this stuff was either switched off or stopped working because of a sudden catastrophic failure.

  • An appeal to emotion? On my slashdot?
  • -1 Flamebait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alomex (148003) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @07:47PM (#46459379) Homepage

    Tell that the the families of passengers on Flight MH370.

    -1 Flamebait

    • by Guppy (12314)

      Flamebait

      Right, it's the sort of schmaltzy emotion-based argument I expect from some politician or tabloid rag. Timothy, I am disappoint.

  • $100,000? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @07:53PM (#46459423)

    It shouldn't cost that much. Many planes already have data service (run thru satellites) that they sell to passengers. Shouldn't be that hard to tap into the available instrument data and send out a blurp every 10-15 seconds. Doesn't even need fancy 2-way handshaking. Just send the encrypted packets and grab them as they arrive at the NOC. Not a big deal if the occasional blurp gets missed. But, if they never get another blurp from a plane, at least they got the data right up to the point of disaster.

  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @07:59PM (#46459485) Journal
    They reel you in with that el-cheapo 100K offer, but then you have to sign a 24 month contract. The "unlimited" streaming plan streams at high speed only for 2GB, then it crawls at 128 Kbps. Want really really unlimited, then you pay per GB. Then there are roaming charges. International roaming charges. Then international texting charges. You have to root the device to install WhatsApp. When the contract is up they will do employ high pressure sales tactics to sign on for another two years for marginal upgrades. Original "free" equipment is designed to crap out in 24 months. Stay away from these data streaming companies.
  • Cost per use (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spasm (79260) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @08:08PM (#46459555) Homepage

    Ok, according to the FAA there's ~3,739 U.S. registered passenger jets which carry more than 90 passengers (http://atwonline.com/aircraft-amp-engines/faa-us-commercial-aircraft-fleet-shrank-2011). Cost to fit just U.S. registered aircraft with this device would therefore be just under $374 million.

    Number of U.S. registered passenger jets which can carry > 90 passengers that have crashed with any fatalities since 2000 is maybe 5 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_accidents_and_incidents_involving_commercial_aircraft#2000), and the number of those where it wasn't immediately obvious where the wreckage was was zero.

    So in the US alone, we're talking close to $374 million dollars to fit out just aircraft that carry more than 90 people, for a return of nothing. I couldn't find a reliable estimate of the number of commercial passenger aircraft currently flying and capable of carrying > 90 passengers globally, but I did see a number of guestimates in the 15,000-20,000 range. Assuming there's only 10,000 currently active passenger planes in the world capable of carrying >90, that's $1,000,000,000 to fit them with this gadget. The number of planes since 2000 which went down with passengers on board which couldn't be immediately located is what? Two? The Malaysian Airlines one now and the Air France one a few years back?

    So if every passenger plane in the world capable of carrying more than 90 people had been fitted with this gadget since 2000 we'd currently be running at half a billion dollars per actual use. I can think of a *lot* of uses for half a billion dollars which would actually save tens of thousands of lives. There isn't a single case in the last 20 years where this gadget would have saved a single life - all it can do, at best, is provide slightly faster confirmation to grieving families that their loved ones were indeed dead and here's how it happened. Which is not trivial - I don't mean to invalidate what such news might mean to someone with a loved one who was on that flight - but oh, my, that's a staggering bill to just provide speedy confirmation of a loved one's death for a few hundred people.

  • by whistlingtony (691548) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @08:08PM (#46459559)

    "Tell that the the families of passengers on Flight MH370"....

    Would this device have stopped the plane from crashing? No. It would have told us what happened... So, in other words, it wouldn't have helped at all. We'd still be telling the families that their loved ones died. We'd just be able to tell them what happened. Which we'll be able to do once we recover the plane (and we will, be patient, sheesh) and find the black box.

    In other words, this device does nothing that we need. It just tells what happend in time for the news cycle to remember there was this plane crash.

  • "It can be fitted to a commercial airliner for less than $100,000. But the industry has decided that it's not worth the expense. Tell that the the families of passengers on Flight MH370."

    Commercial airplane crashes are extremely rare. Even in these rare instances, it is even more rare not to find the aircraft that crashed.

    It's NOT worth the extra expense. Should we really believe that *anything* is worth doing at *any* cost if it saves *any* lives? I would say no. But you don't have to take my word for it. People risk their own lives everyday to save money. It doesn't take a big greedy corporation to do it. If you offered people the option to pay $100 extra for their plane ticket so

  • "We're tracking every flying object in the sky." -- Bullshit. I guess that was just grandstanding from NORAD [wikipedia.org] and also demonstrates the futility of the NRO. [nro.gov] How many billions have Americans alone spent to ensure this can never happen already? I mean, was every bit of that post 9/11 "security" just posturing and scaremongering?

    Egg meet face, world. If you ask me, having a large passenger jet disappear in mid air just goes to show how much we've squandered in the guise of security when without actually get

  • by sunking2 (521698) on Tuesday March 11, 2014 @08:42PM (#46459821)
    What really matters is the total number of units sold / by the number of times it's needed. 10s of thousands of planes at 100k a whack for something that happens to 1 or 2 of them. That's a pretty pricey usage.
  • article admits in cases when plane suddenly crashes the system is useless, the black box is only useful source of data

    reality is a system such as Next Gen that would have sufficient satellite coverage and bandwidth will cost billions and take years to implement (including launching satellites). that's the only way the tens of thousands of daily flights could have their data recorded.

    So we'll tell the families of the presumed dead of the Malaysian airlines flights not to listen to technically ignorant assho

  • I wonder is this device being installed on new-build airliners? A large, well-funded airline like Emirates would certainly want it installed on their large A380 and 777 fleet, especially given the distance of many flights out of Dubai.

  • It would be nice to know where the plane is and why. However, crashes happen so infrequently
    that spending billions of dollars and not preventing a single one -- merely accelerating the speed
    at which we get the "black box" data is not worth it.

    Everyone involved including the airline industry has decided that it's not worth the expense
    to spend $100,000 per airplane as well as untold costs to maintain that, and pass the costs
    onto your relatives.

    Tell that the the families of passengers on Flight MH370.

    I just did.

    E

What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying. -- Nikita Khruschev

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