A black box recovered from an earlier plane crash
A black box recovered from an earlier plane crashReuters

It's been four days since the Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 disappeared mysteriously and in spite of large scale search teams deployed, there is no conclusive answer regarding the fate of the plane.

What could have happened to the Malaysian Airlines flight MH370? The answer could very well lie in the plane's black box. But no data can be compiled until the box is recovered.

Transmission from the plane to air traffic controllers is limited to the use of ancient radio waves. This questions the outdated level of technology still used in aircrafts at a time when passengers inside the plane have the ability to make phone calls, stream TV shows and surf the web, reports News.com.au.

What is the Black Box?

The black box, which is actually orange in colour, is the device used to record any instruction sent to the plane and also records any conversation had through radio, in the cockpit and between cockpit crew.

The box is designed to endure the high impact of a plane crash, the pressures of the deep sea and the high and low temperatures of fire and ice.

"The black box may seem indestructible, but in a day and age when people can access internet on their phone, watches and also in their cars, the black box is living in the dark ages," states the report.

While the technology for real-time data transmission is available, there still aren't any systems set up that can handle the bandwidth to transmit in real time the data from every second of the flight and the audio from the cockpit. Even though extremely expensive and complex (costing over $100,000 for a single aircraft), a technological update on this front clearly is required.

An aviation analyst spoke to the ABC about the difficulties of deploying this technology, saying "if even one half of them were transmitting real-time on everything and flight data recorder the bandwidth would be immense".

Boeing has recently filed a patent, which selects what is determined to be relevant data and only transmits that in real time.

Had this system been set up earlier, it would have become easier to determine what really happened with flight MH370 not to mention the cost that could have been avoided on international search and rescue fleets. Perhaps even lives could have been saved.

In 2009, after Air France flight 447 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, It was believed that it occurred due to technical faults in the aircraft. However, after nearly two years of searching, the black box was found and told the story of a how a confused and frightened crew made errors flying the plane through a major storm that eventually led to its deadly crash.

So until the black box is recovered there is absolutely no way to understand what truly happened with MH370.