The Washington Post reports that one airline in Canada has already installed tracking systems throughout its entire fleet that would make an aircraft disappearance impossible. The airline, First Air, flies in areas beyond the reach of conventional radar up near the Arctic Circle.
When flights proceed normally, the system never snaps into action. But if something goes wrong — a sudden loss of altitude; an unexpected bank; engine vibrations — the system begins transmitting data to the ground, via satellite, every second. That six-pound box spits out reams of performance data, as well as the basics necessary for a search-and-rescue: coordinates, speed, and altitude.
The cost? The fact that they system transmits data only in emergencies keeps costs down, but installation alone was $120,00 per plane. With only a small fleet, the cost was manageable for First Air. The Post notes that for an airline like Delta (with a fleet of 764 aircraft), the cost would be about $90 million.
Check out the full article here.