HMS Tireless will join international search for missing Malaysian Airlines flight
HMS Tireless will join international search for missing Malaysian Airlines flightReuters

A United Nations body is examining proposals for the live streaming of information from aircraft cockpits. In the event of an incident, this would provide investigators with vital information and help in the rapid location of planes such as MH370.

The proposed system could also spell the end for the black box, whose battery-powered ping signals fade after around 30 days.

However, the proposal by the UN's International Telcommunications Union (ITU) is opposed by many pilots, who say they would be snooped on and unfairly blamed for unexplained accidents.

The airline industry has called for the constant tracking of aircraft, possibly via satellite signals.

Information would be stored in a computing "cloud" and and be instantly and continually accessible. Details such as adjustments made by pilots as well as altitude, airspeed, direction and other information could then be monitored from the ground.

"That data is there for safety analysis," Sean Cassidy, an officer with the Air Line Pilots Association (Alpa), told the Sunday Times.

"Unfortunately, if you have this massive wave of data that's getting out there – it's not going to be safeguarded and protected – there's going to be a real rush to judgment, especially towards the pilots in event of an accident."

MH370: Black Box Locator and Drone Enter Search
MH370: Black Box Locator and DroneReuters

Richard Toomer, a spokesman for the British Airline Pilots Association, said pilots would need to be given "significant reassurances" that black box data would be used only during crash investigations.

"I can understand how there would be sensitivity around the use of that data," Toomer said.

"Their [Alpa's] point about a rush to judgment is well made."

The ITU was asked to investigate the live streaming of black box information by Ahmad Shabery Cheek, minister for communications and multimedia in the Malaysian government.

Shabery spoke out recently at The International Telecommunication (ITU) World Telecommunications Development Conference in Dubai. He said the ITU should develop cutting-edge technology to facilitate transmission of flight data in real time, which would be especially useful in cases like the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370.

The Malaysian government believes that data from aircraft, including from the black box, could be continually transmitted and stored in data centres on the ground, he added.

"I urge ITU to work with the industry to develop a better way to constantly monitor flight data and what was happening inside the cockpit," he said.

Hamadoun Toure, the ITU secretary general said: "We must ensure that aircraft can be tracked in real time so that such an unprecedented and tragic incident does not occur again."

Meanwhile, the search for the MH370's black box continues. Chris Bellamy, Professor of Maritime Security at the University of Greenwich in London, told Sky News that pinpointing the black box and wreckage from the Boeing 777 could still take some time as the ocean floor is "mountainous".

"The black box could be in a ravine or something like that which might cause refraction of the sound," he said.

"Things rebound, echoes happen under the water as they do in the air."