As airplanes vanish, a push for better tracking technology

Airlines work on new technology to better tra... 02:17

AirAsia Flight 8501, like Malaysia Airlines 370 before it, vanished without any clear indication of where it went down. Airlines and regulators are working on systems that can track flights better.

Systems to more effectively track planes and locate black boxes exist and could have given Flight 8501 search teams a head start.

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Many say tracking technology would help find downed planes like AirAsia Flight 8510 faster. CBS News

There is AFIRS -- the Automated Flight Information Reporting System which continually sends real-time data from plane to satellite to monitoring stations on the ground. The technology was developed by a company called Flyht Aerospace Solutions. With it, controllers will always know where a plane is.

Crews search for black box to determine cause... 01:44

There is also a black box that will separate from the plane when it crashes into the water. The combination cockpit voice and flight data recorder ejects, floats and sends signals, providing search teams with a location of the crash site.

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

But the process to get changes mandated in civilian planes can be slow and cumbersome, and may take years. There are regulatory hurdles as well as cost benefit concerns in the airline industry.

Since the disappearance of MH-370 last March, the International Civil Aviation Organization has pushed for tracking technology, as has the National Transportation Safety Board.

Differences between AirAsia and Malaysia Airl... 03:36

During a hearing on tracking technology just two months ago, Christopher Hart, the acting chairman of the NTSB said that lost airplanes should be a thing of the past.

"When a flight cannot be located, an incredulous public asks how can they possibly lose an entire airplane," Hart said during the hearing.

A source says AirAsia was committed to air safety and sources say before AirAsia 8501 crashed, the company had been retrofitting its fleet with tracking devices.

Airbus will be putting ejectable black boxes on some of its planes, but Boeing will not. Its tests have shown deployment failures. In one case, the company says a black box ejected over a downtown area.