Cameron Doudu

Cameron Duodu

It is impossible to imagine the anguish that has afflicted the families and friends of the 239 people who have vanished out of the face of the earth, in a Boeing 777 aircraft of Malaysian Airlines, since March 8, 2014.

They are mainly Chinese and Malaysians, and their plight has not been made any easier by the secretive Malaysian way of government, which has been bungling over what information to give them and when.

To not know of what has happened to one?s dearest, for days on end, is one of the most cruel things that can happen to any human. The mind takes off, inventing illusions: maybe the passengers were still alive, their plane having been hijacked and taken to a country whose authorities were secretly negotiating a deal whereby it would receive a share of hundreds of millions of dollars?

Maybe there was a secret runway somewhere, known only to the pilots, where they had gone to hide the plane? After all the transponder of the aircraft was said to have been deliberately switched off?

Maybe?. Maybe?. The imponderables multiply.

As the remarkably thorough search and rescue operations got under way, with no less than a score of nations involved, it occurred to me that this situation is completely unacceptable in the 21st century. This is an age in which, according to the Washington Post, the US ?National Security Agency has built a surveillance system capable of recording ?100 percent? of a foreign country?s telephone calls, enabling the agency to rewind and review conversations as long as a month after they take place?. A senior manager for the programme compares it to a time machine ? one that can replay the voices from any call, without requiring that a person be identified in advance for surveillance.?


Malaysian Airline

Just think of the amount of time and money needed to operate a system of that sort. What is the purpose of it? To record the conversations so that, presumably, if a terrorist attack takes place in the United States, the conversations can be scrutinised to find out whether it was planned in the targeted country, and if so, by which of its citizens. Compare the number of the victims of terrorism to that of air disasters. Which is higher? But whose safety is given priority by the NSA?

The United States is also technically advanced enough to be able to build a ?drone? which can stay in the air for 34 hours, at an altitude of 65,000 feet and a cruising speed of 404 miles per hour. It can carry a weapon that can destroy a motor vehicle or house to which it is remotely directed by an operator seated before a computer screen thousands of miles away. The operator usually obtains the signal identifying his target from a mobile telephone: mobile telephones are built in such a way that they have individual identities that are transmitted, even when the phones are switched off. Why are these signals not made strong enough to be transmitted from beneath the oceans?

Almost all the drones are manufactured by companies, such as Grumann and Boeing, which also manufacture civilian aircraft. Why aren?t they ordered by the world?s aviation authorities to incorporate the communications capabilities of drones into modern aircraft like the Boeing 777 which the Malaysian Airways has now lost?

I am no scientist but I can see in my mind?s eyes, a drone or two, attached to the
wing-tips of a modern passenger jet aircraft, each of which is programmed to independently detach itself and fly over the aircraft to video any erratic behaviour that occurs on it during a pre-determined event, such as the aircraft stalling or suddenly diving steeply, preparatory to crashing?

If such an independent communications system had been installed on the Boeing 777 of Malaysian Airways, it would have transmitted the information it gathered on the plane?s behaviour, to a ground station, so that the station could be apprised immediately of the disaster that had afflicted the aircraft. Such a system would be extremely useful in saving lives, for it is possible that when a plane falls into the sea, many of its passengers can survive, which means that if their whereabouts are known immediately, search and rescue operations can be commenced that have a hope of rescuing some passengers alive.

Why aren?t modern planes equipped with such systems? One cause is their cost. The other is a lack of interest. New developments in aircraft flying systems are expensive to incorporate into civilian aircraft, though many military aircraft are equipped with them. For some reason, although military aircraft are paid for with taxpayers? money, military lives are thought to be worth more than those of civilians!

For instance, I was told by a military pilot more than 30 years ago that even by then, something called ?terrain avoidance radar? had been developed, which enables an aircraft automatically to fly over mountains, trees and electricity and telephone pylons, in case of pilot error or any other cause. Just imagine how many civilian aircraft could have been saved from crashing into obstacles in their flight-path? Is this not the equipment that should patently be mandatory in all aircraft? But it is deemed too expensive to be fitted on passenger aircraft.

This situation is made possible because the military authorities, the aircraft manufacturers and our own governments know that we, the taxpaying civilian populace, are mugs. We don?t ask enough questions; even when we have answers to questions, we don?t get outraged enough to act on them.

How much would you bet me if I said that what happened to Malaysian Airways Flight MH370 could never happen to any US military aircraft, let alone the personal plane of the US President, Air Force One, or similar aircraft owned by the ?leaders? of other rich nations?

Yes, we go to elections to ensure that some people are more ?co-equal? than others. Not so?



By Cameron Duodu


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