Malaysian Premier Calls for Aviation Reforms After MH370 Tragedy

An image released by Australian Maritime Safety Authority 26 April 2014 shows current planned search areas in Indian Ocean, west of Australia, for the wreckage of flight MH370 (DPA).

KUALA LUMPUR (DPA) — Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak called for reforms in the global aviation industry Wednesday after the disappearance of commerical jetliner more than two months ago.

Najib said reforms the industry can adopt include the use of real-time tracking, as well as changing communications systems so those cannot be disabled in mid-air.

"One of the most astonishing things about this tragedy is the revelation that an airliner the size of a Boeing 777 can vanish, almost without a trace," he said in a commentary published in Wall Street Journal.

"In an age of smartphones and mobile internet, real-time tracking of commercial airplanes is long overdue."

"We should also consider changing communications systems – namely transponders and Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting Systems – so they can't be disabled mid-air," he said.

Najib lamented that the industry did not implement recommendations of investigators of the Air France 447 that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean in 2009, "that would help search teams quickly locate a crash site and reach any survivors."

The prime minister said policymakers should also consider improving the capabilities of plane flight data and voice recorders.

"At the moment, the location pingers – which are activated if a plane crashes – last only for 30 days. This should be increased to at least 90 days, as the European Union has proposed," he said.

He added that audio recording capability should be increased to at least 24 hours, from the present capability of two hours.

"These changes may not have prevented the MH370 or Air France 447 tragedies. But they would make it harder for an aircraft to simply disappear, and easier to find any aircraft that did," he said.

Najib admitted the Malaysian government "didn't get everything right" in the first few days after the Beijing-bound flight MH370, with 239 people aboard, disappeared March 8 an hour after takeoff from Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

But Najib said Malaysia did its best "under near-impossible circumstances." He vowed to continue searching until the plane is found.