After many false starts and problems with weather/seas the search is closing in on debris floating in the southern Indian Ocean. Timing and Doppler shifts of handshakes combined with fuel consumption, estimated air-speed, drift measurements and satellite images of the region tell us that the search region is growing tighter. Searching planes have dropped tracking buoys near debris so it is only a matter of time before one of the ships picks up debris. Many difficulties remain like picking up debris from rough seas and using the cumulative information to locate the pingers before they die, but I am confident that this will soon come together to find the wreckage of the MH-370.
I have no doubt that public outrage at the delay in finding the wreck will induce the aviation industry to implement long-suggested real-time tracking and data-recording systems. It’s just silly to spend hundreds of $millions on a plane, fill it with hundreds of people and then to lose it. The present system of pingers and data-recorders was devised decades ago and without the creativity of Inmarsat to use packet-timing for geolocation, this wreck could easily have been lost forever. I expect that airlines who have been rejecting tubes of toothpaste as dangerous goods will come to their senses about shipping pallets of lithium ion batteries too. Maybe they will even check the damned passports. The world can do better.
Search image Â© Australian Maritime Safety Authority 2014