Thanks for those links, Ann. I often refer to those slideshows when I'm compiling stories like this. Aquatic robots have done a lot for research in a number of areas, and aiding in search-and-rescue missions like this is definitely a good use for them. Not sure if the robot has helped yet! I think the jet is still missing, to my knowledge. What a shame.
@ Battar, it seems strange really. Deliberate attempt to circumvent the technology and deliberate choice of reaching an inaccessible location avoiding controlled air space give rise to suspicions. Does this imply that plane was hijacked before going down? Why else should someone deliberately try to circumvent the technology? Are there any suspicions shown in this regards by the officials?
Elizabeth, thanks for writing about this use of the Bluefin robots. This is exactly the kind of search and rescue application they, and others like them with similar combinations of technology, were designed to help with. We've done slideshows about rescue robots of various kinds here http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=247687 and nautical robots here http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=270526 http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=262528 http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1386&doc_id=246206
@ Mydesign, it is a big tragedy indeed and ironically a question mark on the capabilities of modern technology. But when it comes to international waters, it isn't more ironic than Somali pirates' operations. It is painful to know that pirates can still take big ships hostage for months and in some cases for years without being detected.
" The evidence currently released points not to a failure of technology, but to a deliberate attempt to circumvent the technology. It is belived, for example, that the aircrafts' transponder was turned off, and that a flight path was deliberately chosen to avoid controlled airspace and reach an inaccessible location."
Battar, deliberate attempts has happened inside the flight for switching off various communication channels. But in outside world technologies are there to track it over radars and through satellites.
"I am not sure about the technology failure. The ocean is a vast and mysterious place and I am not surprised it's been difficult for them to find a jet, even as inconceivable as it may be that such a large thing like a jumbo jet could simply disappear like that."
Elizabeth, I don't want to make any comment about how it got disappeared. As a technocrat, I am surprise why still not able to trace it, even black box. There are many types of radar, ATC and surveillance satellites are in place even to track small spy objects. But this jumbo jet is not happened to in the vicinity of all these this made me surprised.
I agree that a location reporting device that cannot be disabled is an appropriate addition to standard aircraft equipment.
The (reasonable) one month pinger battery life also suggests that an easily deployable robot beacon that would home in on a pinger would be very useful in cases where the pinger is detected but may not continue to operate reliably. I expect that such a device would be relatively simple.
Batar, it certainly does look like there was more than a technology failure, or a string of failures, involved. Perhaps errors in judgement, although we really don't have adequate information, just multiple conjectures, at present.
What is a definite failure is the ability to switch off at the transponder system, wlthough one conjecture claimed that may have been part of an attempt to address an electrical problem.
So the real failure is that there was no locati0on reporting beacon sending out location reports frequently enough to allow a more accurate knowledge of the location in a much more timely manner. A beacon with an independant power source would be the proper choice, active when the plane is off the ground, and recharged from the plane's electrical system. At least that is my concept.
The evidence currently released points not to a failure of technology, but to a deliberate attempt to circumvent the technology. It is belived, for example, that the aircrafts' transponder was turned off, and that a flight path was deliberately chosen to avoid controlled airspace and reach an inaccessible location.
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