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No change in tracking planes a year after losing flight

Nearly one year ago, Malaysia Airlines flight 370 vanished in the Southern Indian Ocean and it's one of the biggest mysteries in modern aviation
Standards for tracking planes still not in place 03:27

One year ago Sunday, Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished in the southern Indian Ocean. No one knows exactly where the Boeing 777 went off the radar.

A search by 82 aircraft and 84 ships from 26 countries has so far found nothing. CBS News travel editor Peter Greenberg reports there are still no standards or regulations for tracking aircraft in such remote areas.

Almost 1.8 million square miles of the southern Indian Ocean has been scanned looking for Malaysia 370, with a focus on over 23,000 square miles of the world's deepest oceans.

Most accident searches are tantamount to trying to find the needle in the haystack, but so far with Malaysia Flight 370, they can't even find the haystack.

Dr. Joe Kolly with the National Transportation Safety Board says that the industry needs to do more to track planes so that they can be found quickly in the event something goes wrong.

"The technology exists," Kolly said. "What we need are the standards and the requirements so that aircraft, airlines can now employ this so that we can keep track of these aircraft and know in the case of an emergency where they are."

It was the crash and initial disappearance of Air France Flight 447 in 2009 that first alerted the world to the lack of proper aircraft tracking. In that case, it took almost two years and $40 million to find the black box recorders. But little was done by the industry to introduce new technology or change the rules on aircraft tracking.

But if the same issue was raised five years ago, why is it being raised again?

"We've had a couple incidents now, and the whole world is behind trying to improve," Kolly said.

The case of Air France 447 also brought attention to an airline term: It's called "flying black," when an aircraft is literally flying untracked over remote areas and large bodies of water across the globe. There are some estimates that show 70 percent of the world is not covered by radar surveillance or positive air traffic control.

The International Civil Aviation Organization, the governing body for the worldwide aviation community, has recently proposed adopting a new global standard for aircraft tracking that would track planes every 15 minutes over these areas where radar contact is either scarce or non-existent.

Former Federal Aviation Administration investigator David Soucie said the major obstacles in tracking planes have less to do with technology than government bureaucracy.

"There's no reason that the technology that's already on board the aircraft hasn't been implemented, hasn't been utilized in a way that would allow us to find these aircraft when they disappear," Soucie said. "It's unacceptable to sit here a year later and not know where that aircraft is."

There is some good news about improving global tracking. This summer, five countries, including the U.S. and Malyasia, are going to do demonstration flights to see if they can implement this kind of tracking.

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