Could new technology have helped locate Flight 370’s records?

Friday marks four weeks since Malaysia flight 370 vanished.

This is also around the time the batteries would be running out on the beacons inside the flight recorders.

Searchers west of Australia listened for those so-called "pingers" Friday but there were no discoveries.

Could a new technology have made a difference?

When Air France flight 447 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, the search for the cockpit voice and flight data recorders took two years and between 40 and 50 million dollars.

But the search might have been significantly shorter had the plane been outfitted with so-called "deployable black box" technology.

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CBS

When a plane crashes into water a deployable black box would eject and float making it easier to find critical information about the plane.

The technology was put to the test in a nine million dollar transportation safety administration program between 2010 and 2011.

According to a report obtained by CBS News the test concluded that the technology "enhanced security and safety on commercial aircraft."

U.S. Navy jets, such as the FA-18 have used deployable black boxes for two decades.

But nearly three years after the TSA study, no U.S. commercial airline has installed the technology.

If it is good enough for the Navy, why isn't it good enough for commercial planes?

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North Carolina Congressman David Price
CBS
"That's the question I've been asking for 10 years," said North Carolina Congressman David Price.

Price has sponsored legislation three times that would require deployable black boxes on commercial planes that fly long distances.

All three times the legislation has died, and cost may be a factor.

The cost of putting the technology in a new plane is estimated to be $60,000.

But Price says that's nothing compared to the cost of an underwater search for wreckage.

"You take one of these searches, and you've paid for black boxes for every, for every aircraft you can think of," said Price.

Price plans to introduce new legislation, but it will ultimately be up to the FAA to mandate the new equipment.

A spokesman for the airline industry told CBS that it is premature to speculate about changes to planes.

  • Jeff Pegues

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