By now, most of our readers in New York and beyond have heard about the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which lost radar contact over the South China Sea on a flight between Malaysia and Beijing. Aviation experts say that while it is likely that the plane crashed into the water, there are precious few clues to go on so far in the presumed international airline disaster. The plane involved, a Boeing 777, was carrying 239 passengers and crew members when it disappeared.
If the plane did indeed crash into the sea, recovering the cockpit recorders could prove to be very difficult. The recorders emit a tracking signal that can be picked up within a few miles, but if the recorders -- which provide all the data from the flight as well as the last two hours' worth of cockpit audio -- are under thousands of feet of water, locating them could be tantamount to finding a needle in a haystack.
Adding to that uncertainty is the fact that the signal will only last for about a month. After that, the batteries powering them will run out. There have been calls to increase the required battery life to 90 days for such devices, but this has not yet been heeded.
Obviously, family members of the people on the plane want information about what happened. If their worst fears are realized, they may wish to consult with an aviation accidents attorney who can advise them of a course of action.
Source: The Washington Post, "Malaysia Airlines flight recorder beacons send signal for 30 days before batteries die," Ashley Halsey III, March 11, 2014