Malaysia might soon be able to keep its investigations stateside in the event of future air disasters like Malaysia Airlines Flights 370 and 17. Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Ab Aziz Kaprawi announced Thursday that Malaysia intended to create a laboratory with the capability to analyze flight recorders, also known as black boxes, the Star Online reported.
“There is a need for this after all the aviation incidents,” the deputy minister told reporters, adding that he thought Malaysia would get “an international acknowledgement” of its updated technology by 2018.
Malaysia was hoping to change its status quo, which involves sending black boxes from felled planes out of the country to be probed. The decision was laid out during this week’s Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition.
“Not many countries have gone through the kind of tragedies we face in MH370 and MH17,” Defense Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein told the Star. “It would be a waste if we didn’t leverage this experience and benefit from it in order to share what we know with stakeholders out there.”
MH370, carrying 239 people from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, disappeared from radars in March 2014. Despite authorities carrying out a wide-ranging search of the Indian Ocean, neither the plane nor its black box has ever been found. MH17, with 298 passengers from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was shot down just months later in Ukraine. Rebels there found the black boxes and gave them to Malaysia, which had to turn them over to the Dutch for analysis, the Huffington Post reported.
Black boxes can provide a lot of information about downed planes, including data on factors like altitude and speed and recordings of cockpit conversations, according to the Australia Broadcasting Corporation. They have long-term batteries and underwater beacons that can help investigators locate them should they sink in the ocean.
“Care must be taken in recovering and transporting the recorders so that no further damage is done to the devices that might prevent important data from being extracted,” engineer Joe Yoon wrote on Aerospaceweb.org years ago.
Malaysia might be able to do that extraction as early as next year.