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Our Opinion: Modernize jets

Published 9:47am Thursday, March 27, 2014

The airline industry and the worldwide agencies that govern it need to get with the times.

The news that a missing Malaysian Airlines passenger jet had crashed in a remote corner of the Indian Ocean left searchers scrambling to search an area the size of Alaska to find the flight data recorder, an orange box often called the “black box,” before it stopped sending pings.

It is hard to believe that in an era of instant worldwide mass and personal communication that planes crash rescuers still must recover the device to hear what happened on board. What’s more, in an age of hijack prevention, it is hard to believe that anyone could turn existing communication devices with the ground off in order to make a passenger jet silent.

There must be changes.

Airplanes should not be able to simply vanish. Period. No one should be able to turn off signals to the towers.

And flight data recorders should be sending their recorded data via radio or via satellite to a computer network that saves that information in case of an emergency.

Changes that make sense to everyone paying attention to the story of the Malaysian plane that was lost for two weeks somehow boggle the airline industry. Whatever roadblocks are in the way — unions, government red tape, airline executives —need to step aside and be concerned about the future of the industry as a whole.

Progress is coming.

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