Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

Winston Aldworth: How can an airliner fly under the radar?

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Surely it must be possible to keep tabs on an airliner wherever it is in the world. Photo / Thinkstock
Surely it must be possible to keep tabs on an airliner wherever it is in the world. Photo / Thinkstock

What lessons can be learned from Flight MH370?

Many people outside the airline industry were surprised to learn that airliners couldn't be quickly and clearly tracked at all times.

I can barely walk from the office to my favourite pub without gracing a CCTV camera. We've become so accustomed to extreme surveillance in many areas of our lives and yet in this area - where it really matters - the need for surveillance has, er, gone under the radar.

A new electronic gizmo is being developed that will help you locate lost luggage anywhere in the world via an app on your smartphone. If we can track a suitcase, surely it must be possible to keep tabs on an airliner.

So why can't these seemingly simple solutions be applied to the business of knowing what's going on aboard a plane and even where the blessed thing might be?

People within the aviation industry have said that things are, well, complicated. Different technologies used between different countries, different airlines and different aircraft manufacturers mean connecting all the dots isn't as straightforward as it seems to laypeople.

Sounds to me like the aviation industry might need some people from outside the trade to think up solutions.

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Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

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