Better technology to track planes exists so why don't more airlines use it?

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 would be easier to find if the Boeing 777 was equipped with the latest technology.

It was not.

Among the planes searching the southern Indian Ocean is the P3 Orion. The military plane has sophisticated surveillance technology and something Flight 370 did not have -- an automatic deployable flight recorder, also known as ADFR.

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In a crash, the black box would eject from the plane
CBS News
In a crash, the combination cockpit voice and flight data recorder would eject. Instead of going down with the plane it would float on top of the water, providing search teams with a location of the crash site.

Made by DRS Technologies, this type of black box has been used by the military since the 60's and it is in the U.S. Navy's F/A-18 fighter jets.

Some commercial airlines already have technology that streams data.

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One system sends real-time data
CBS News
The Automated Flight Reporting System or AFIRS sends real-time data including location from plane to satellite to monitoring stations on the ground.

It doesn't replace black boxes; it works in conjunction with them. But it costs $100,000 per airplane and airlines are reluctant to spend that.

The airline pilots union is concerned about streaming data for another reason.

"We do not want to see massive amounts of information which could end up being used in some kind of disciplinary fashion against a pilot or an airline or somebody else," said Sean Cassidy, a union spokesman.

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The black boxes send pings
CBS News

Just last week, lawmakers in Washington, D.C. pressed the secretary of transportation to move forward on the idea of ejectable black boxes in commercial planes. The FAA has been working on this issue for more than 10 years.

The so-called black boxes, the flight data recorder and the voice recorder on the missing Boeing 777, send out a ping that can be heard for a mile or two away by sonar. But the batteries last only 30 days.

  • Jeff Pegues

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