Why Passenger Planes Can Still Vanish

Some airlines have been slow to upgrade tracking technology
An Indonesian navy service member looks out before departing for a search operation to find AirAsia flight QZ8501 at the Indonesian Naval Aviation Base Juanda on Jan. 3, 2015, in Surabaya. Photographer: Robertus Pudyanto/Getty Images

By Dec. 30, when search teams began to recover debris and bodies from the apparent crash site of AirAsia flight QZ8501, the airline industry had begun to hear renewed calls from flyers and regulators for more precise, consistent tracking of commercial aircraft. During inclement weather two days earlier, the Airbus A320, while carrying 162 people from Surabaya in Indonesia to Singapore, had dropped off radar and couldn’t be found.

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