Last year was marred by two unthinkable airplane crashes - the Malaysia Airlines and AsiaAir tragedies. The disasters were complicated because both planes had seemingly disappeared, leaving officials struggling to find out where they crashed. We can track our jogging routes and pizza deliveries in real time, so why can't we find lost planes? Canadian airline First Air can thanks to technology added to its planes.
Each First Air plane is outfitted with a device that uses the Iridium satellite system to send out real- time location information in emergency situations. It takes just 15 seconds for the information to transmit from the plane to officials on the ground.
According to the company, it automatically transmits four-dimensional GPS-based position and flight data recorder information, including real-time positioning, when triggered by an airborne event.
The technology is extremely necessary for First Air, because it serves many remote locations in Canada and planes can drop off radar. But, the technology seems like it would benefit any airline in an emergency situation, so why aren't they all using it?
The big thing stopping airlines from using a system like First Air's is cost. The cost to install the equipment is $120,000 per plane. That's definitely a lot of money, but the investment might be worth it because it transmits data so much faster than traditional devices.
Most planes are equipped with the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System, which transmits flight data to the ground but is not in real-time. Flight data recorders, or black boxes, do not transmit information to the ground.
I know I'd feel a lot safer in the air with this type of technology on board, especially when I'm traveling long distances on flights over the ocean.