Flight MH370: Orange is the (New) Black Box

March 14, 2014
Without finding the aircraft, without finding that black box, the final minutes of Flight MH370 and the fate of its passengers remains an enigma.

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.

More on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370

About the Author

Ginger Christ Blog | Associate Editor

Focus Leadership & Strategy and Transportation Industries: Auto, Aerospace, Maritime and Rail.

Follow Ginger on Twitter: @GChristIW 

Call: 216-931-9750

Associate Editor Ginger Christ covers leadership and strategy, tackling subjects such as lean manufacturing leadership, strategy development and deployment, corporate culture, corporate social responsibility, and growth strategies. As well, she reports on the best practices of the most successful companies and executives in the world of transportation manufacturing, which encompasses the aerospace, automotive, rail and shipbuilding sectors. 

Ginger also oversees The IndustryWeek 1000, IW U.S. 500 and IW 50 Best U.S. Manufacturers annual special reports and the IW 1000 / IW 500 / IW 50 Best U.S. Manufacturers databases.

Prior to joining IW, Christ was a reporter for daily and weekly newspapers in Ohio, including the Dayton Business Journal and Crain's Cleveland Business.

She holds a bachelor of arts in English from the University of Pittsburgh.

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