The disappearance of the Malaysia Airlines jet MH370 could have been avoided, that’s what experts say. Of course it could have been avoided, in an era in which intelligence services like the GHCQ and NSA are able to track down each and every smartphone connected to a cell phone network, and Facebook and Google are planning to release their own world wide internet-like network with drones and balloons. The technological ingredients are there, airlines are allowed to use them — some of them already do — and now the big question is: how do we make all commercial airplanes part of the digital surveillance network?
Making it mandatory to have new surveillance technology on board through regulation seems the way to go, but that was also true after the disappearance and crash of the Air France flight 447, which went down in the middle of the South Atlantic in 2009. It wasn’t done. And even if regulations really will be passed this time; by the time it takes effect, the technology will already be obsolete again.
In order not to constantly lag behind new technological developments, it’s time for all airlines to publish what extra safety measures have been added to each individual aircraft. That way, safety-conscious consumers can decide which airplane to take — just like we know which cars are safer and less safe. That would create a dynamic where airlines are put under public pressure to make their airplanes as safe as possible — to make sure no gigantic passenger airplane will ever disappear from the radar again.