The Northern Territory news Tue 6 Jan 2015
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TUESDAY JANUARY 6 2015 NEWS 15 V1 - NTNE01Z01MA last The crash secondary radar operates only if a planes transponder is on. Military radar may extend further but their reliance on lengthy antenna arrays makes them hugely expensive. THAT was why it wasrelatively easy for MH370 to disappear from view between Malaysia and Vietnam. Once communications, including the transponder, were turned off, the aircraft effectively vanished from radar screens. Aircraft do use GPS, but normally just to show pilots their position on a map. The data are not usually shared with ATC because of the expense involved. San Diego-based aviation expert Hans Geber says MH370, and now QZ8501, leads him to think radar in the region is not very effective. Most of the flight path would have been over the Java Sea, close enough to Indonesian land that modern radar should have been able to track it, Geber says. But Pacific Aviation Consulting director Oliver Lamb says if an aircraft is not in the air it cant be tracked. As it turned out, sadly, that was the case with QZ8501. Its wreckage was found within 10km of its last radar position. Even then, the debris took three days to find, leading Bartsch to suggest the chances of finding MH370 were looking increasingly remote. No one knows where its last position was. Its all based on best estimates from a few satellite pings, he says. The reasons why they found QZ8501 were there was wreckage and oil slicks in the vicinity of its last known position. I suspect now the chances of ever finding MH370 are decreasing significantly. What it amounts to is an enormous amount of grief for hundreds of families globally. In just three aviation accidents MH370, MH17 and QZ8501 699 lives have been lost. Other less publicised crashes, such as that of a TransAsia jet in Taipei in July and a Sepahan Airlines crash in Tehran in August, took the toll for 2014 to over 1000. Bartsch says commercial passenger jet crashes had the potential to change how people approach flying. I think if it turns out QZ8501 was the result of human factors, in particular pilot error, and moreover it was a lack of training, that will be a consideration people take into account when theyre considering air travel, Bartsch says. Because air travel, particularly with low-cost carriers, is extremely competitive and the costs are so close together, then safety would obviously become an element in peoples determination as to what airline theyll fly. firstname.lastname@example.org The latest air disaster has highlighted safety fears and questions over how planes in the modern age can simply disappear CATASTROPHE