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Flight MH370: Orange is the (New) Black Box

Flight MH370: Orange is the (New) Black Box

Families wait anxiously as rumors swirl.

Reports emerge of debris sightings, of ringing phones, of a mid-air course change.

A technical malfunction? A hijacking? Sabotage? Terrorism?

As leads prove fruitless, as the days without concrete answers grow, the mystery surrounding Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370's disappearance takes on a more desperate air.

The search, which initially covered 20 nautical miles in the South China Sea, now has been extended to the Indian Ocean – thousands of miles from the scheduled flight path. Authorities are searching feverishly to find the aircraft as more time elapses.

The secrets behind what happened on board Flight MH370 are hidden in the Boeing 777's black box -- the elusive flight-data recorder that disappeared with the aircraft and its 239 passengers and crew.

The black box, which actually is orange in most cases, has an underwater locator beacon that has a battery life of about 30 days. That gives authorities a limited number of days to find the aircraft that vanished from radar at about 1:30 a.m. local time March 8 en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur.

Because without finding the aircraft, without finding that black box, the final minutes of Flight MH370 and the fate of its passengers remains an enigma.

The search for answers about the Malaysia Airlines flight extends beyond just solving this inscrutable mystery; it has elicited a rallying cry for an industry implementation of flight-data streaming.

Because in a world of smartphones and GPS, a world driven by connectivity and accountability, it's impossible to understand how a massive airliner could simply disappear without a digital trace.

Such systems exist to transmit aircraft tracking data and automatically send flight-data recorder information. Yet few are used, and those that are are event-driven because of cost restraints. 

Only time will tell if MH370 will be the catalyst for change in the industry.

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