Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Global Impact: Update--IATA Urges Need for Enhanced Screening, Tracking of Passengers

According to The Associated Press, the disappearance of Flight MH370 underscores the need for improvements in security, both in tracking aircraft and in screening passengers, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said Tuesday (April 1).

Investigators continue to search for information as to who precisely was in control of   the cockpit and will also seek to determine if there was any stress or tension in the voice of whomever was communicating with ground control.

IATA has said that it is creating a task force that will make recommendations by the end of 2014 on how commercial aircraft can be tracked continuously.

"We cannot let another aircraft simply vanish," said Tony Tyler, the director-general of IATA, whose 240 member airlines carry 84% of all passengers and cargo worldwide.

Tyler also urged governments to step up the use of passport databases such as the one operated by INTERPOL to determine if they have been stolen. Most countries, including Malaysia, don't run all passports through the international agency's computer system.

The presence of two men on Flight MH370 with stolen passports has raised speculation of a possible terrorist link, but it is now thought they were migrants attempting to get to Europe. Nonetheless, their easy access to the flight "rings alarm bells," Tyler said.

COMMENT: Malaysia has been criticized for its handling of the search, particularly its communications to the media and families of the passengers.

The believed search area continues to shift as both real and speculated locations of the flight continue to change, losing precious time as only a week remains to locate the in-flight voice and data recorders.

The current search zone is a remote 254,000-square kilometer (98,000-square mile) area roughly a 2.5 flight from Perth.

The eleven aircraft involved in the search Tuesday returned to their base in Perth without any significant sightings, the Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.

It is uncanny that the international community has NOT resorted to the use of aircraft carriers and submarines, both of which can enhance the search area, given the loss of precious time when "pings" will dissipate.

Tragically, it is entirely possible that next week will come and go without the search for Flight MH370 ever being found, adding to one of the most historic disappearances of a commercial airliner in recorded history.