Malasyian Airlines flight MH370 - Time magazine
Image by © AHMAD ZIKRI MOHAMAD ZUKI/Demotix/Corbis

First there was Malaysia Airlines flight MH370—the one that went missing without a trace. Then there was Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, shot down over Ukraine. In light of AirAsia flight QZ8501’s disappearance on Sunday, December 28th, the whole world is left wondering—how can an airliner simply vanish…again?

Rapid proliferation of low-cost carriers

Especially in Southeast Asia, where the market was dominated by state carriers until recent years, low-cost airlines have opened up air travel to the growing middle class. As Bloomberg Businessweek explains, airlines rushed to capitalize on demand, thus facing shortages of qualified pilots and air traffic controllers to uphold high standards of safety.

More from Bloomberg Business and former American Airlines Chairman & CEO Robert Crandall:

“Tombstone mentality” in the airline industry

With chances of a crash just 1 in 11 million and fleet-wide updates carrying enormous costs, some companies find new technology difficult to justify. That is, until the recent rise in flight-related disasters.

So what exactly do carriers need to do to? TIME reveals the fatal flaw in certain airplane sensors, as learned after the disappearance of Air France Flight 447 in 2009. Maclean’s highlights the satellite updates that national governments should focus on to move global tracking away from WWII-era radar technology.

In the words of Robert Crandall, “The airlines need to stop pushing back and governments need to make the point…if an airline spends the money to provide this kind of technology…we’re going to have what I society as a whole will believe is a positive benefit.” 

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