Case likely to trigger aviation reviews, say experts

Case likely to trigger aviation reviews, say experts

WASHINGTON - Airline passengers are now familiar with the routine they go through at an airport gate - remove shoes, take out laptop and put liquids in small containers.

But few realise that nearly everything they have to do now can be traced to a crash or a close call.

"I could take you through a security checkpoint at an airport like an archaeological dig," said Mr Brian Michael Jenkins, a former member of the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security.

"I can point to every single piece of technology and every single procedure and tell you what event it is related to historically."

And that transfer from incident to real life would apply more so for a case that captures international attention the way Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 has done, say aviation experts.

Long after the clouds clear over the fate of the missing aircraft and the 239 people on board, pilots and airport crew will likely be using tools or going through processes borne out of the unfortunate incident on March 8.

While the magnitude and speed of those changes will depend heavily on how investigations into MH370 ultimately end, experts say the case has already thrown up issues likely to trigger reviews within civil aviation.

At the top of that list is how planes are tracked by radar and the mechanisms that send data from the plane to the ground.

Finding better ways to track a plane has long been on the plans for the authorities, said Mr Michel Merluzeau, managing partner of aviation consulting firm G2 Solutions, adding that incidents such as the MH370 case will likely push the agenda forward.

"As global aviation grows, we are going to have a lot more airplanes over water, a lot more airplanes over parts of the world that are fairly remote. We are going to have more people in those remote areas," he said.

"The over-water events we have had in the past decade, including Air France Flight 447 in 2009 that was missing for a long time, signalled that something needed to be done."

Similarly, Mr Jenkins raised the example of speculation that perpetrators might have wanted to fly the Boeing 777-200ER into a building as added incentive for a change in aircraft tracking.

Pointing to similar terrorist plots to target Changi Airport and airports in London, he said: "Those scenarios would say that we would like to have the ability to track missing airplanes, better than what has been demonstrated in this particular case."

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