Aaron Schachter: The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is now entering its tenth day and investigators are no closer to solving the mystery. The search teams are scouring a huge area stretching from the Indian Ocean near Australia to Central Asia. Today, the governments of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan said no unidentified aircraft entered their airspace on the date Flight 370 vanished. Wherever the jet is right now, many of us remain baffled by the disappearance. It just seems that with all the modern technology out there, it shouldn't be possible for a commercial airplane to just vanish. But this isn't the first time a plane has disappeared without a trace according to Alan Diehl. He's an aviation safety expert who's worked with the NTSB, the FAA and the US military.
Alan Diehl: It does happen. We lost a US Coast Guard C-130, a giant forage and transport, several years ago off the California coast. Never found it. We lost another military transport off of Japan in '61. I heard from the relatives just recently. Never found it. There's a number of relatively modern aircraft that have disappeared never to be found, especially when it goes down at sea.
Schachter: A lot of this talk centers around the "black box." I think many of us look at this as a really advanced technology. It records what happened with the airliner, the radio transmission. Is this up to date with what aviation needs today?
Diehl: No and as a matter of fact, Aaron, we can almost guarantee that there'll be a recommendation by whoever does this investigation, probably the Malaysians, that we examine streaming data black boxes, intelligent black boxes. The technology is at hand to do this and I think this will probably be the incident that leads to the wide adoption of these techniques and these devices. If there's a defect in the Boeing 777, we need to know about that because Boeing has a new version of this out and I don't know if the airlines are going to want to buy it if there's still a cloud hanging over this airframe a year from now, three years from now, etc.
Schachter: There is a commercial available safety program called "LoJack." If I lose my car, the police flip a switch and they find my car. Is there nothing on an airline that speaks to something so we can find it?
Diehl: We have emergency locator transmitters. I don't think the Boeing 777 had those installed. Light planes had these so-called emergency locator transmitters. If they crash, they send a message to the satellites. Unfortunately, airliners are not required to have these, at least in this country and apparently not in Malaysia.
Schachter: So what are the new technologies out there that could provide more immediate information for investigators and be more reliable?
Diehl: I know there's at least one company in Canada that claims they have what they call a "streaming black box" which streams data constantly. But there's been a lot of debate about whether or not there's enough bandwidth to allow 2,000 or 3,000 airlines around the world to be streaming this data constantly. But since we suspect this aircraft may well be in the Indian Ocean, there is only one type of asset that's likely to find those pingers. These are acoustic devices called "P-3's." We have 150 of them, the Japanese have 100. We need dozens of those planes scouring the Indian Ocean now. They're designed to look for submarines. That's why they're called anti-submarine warfare aircraft. These patrol planes can fly at 400 mph, their range is a couple thousand miles. We can base them out of an island called Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. Obviously the pinger batteries have only got less than three weeks life left.
If the aircraft in fact is down in the Indian Ocean, which is where the smart money is saying it probably went, if we don't find them in the next three weeks, we may never find it. This may be another "Amelia Earhart" situation and that's not what we want, Aaron.
Schachter: Alan Diehl is an aviation expert and author of the new book "Air Safety Investigators: Using Science to Save Lives â€” One Crash at a Time." Mr. Diehl, we appreciate your time.
Diehl: Thank you Aaron. Good luck.