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Associated Press

Furthermore …

Asia crash may spur data retrieval upgrade

The crash of the Malaysian Airlines jet will be a major test of the black box, the cockpit recorder that supposedly will tell investigators what went wrong and why.

Finding that box may take days. Or months. Or years. It may have sunk to the bottom of the South China Sea, whipped by waves and currents or carried by fish.

“There is simply no datalink onboard an aircraft with the bandwidth to continuously stream the volumes of data collected and stored during every second of a flight by the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder,” Stephen Trimble wrote in The Guardian. “The result is a dangerous silence in the immediate and sometimes extended aftermath of what appears to be the worst airline crash in more than a decade.”

If airlines and their regulators wanted to, they could ask about real-time streaming of flight data. In an age of terrorism, that would not only satisfy our need to know but also offer a bit of safety if hijackers knew their words and even pictures would be transmitted right back home.