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How the Granddaddy of US Recon Planes Is Helping Search for Flight 370

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The mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 off the coast of Vietnam has prompted a massive multinational maritime search for hints of the plane's fate. Among the growing armada of surface and aerial search vessels is the US Navy's venerable P-3C Orion, a long-range surveillance platform still just as effective today as it was in the early Cold War. ( עוד...

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96flstc 3
So now you've hardwired the transponder. What happens in a real electrical emergency and you can't cut the power to the unit off? Maybe it needs a code transmitted thru a data line to disable....
stjohnsguy 1
Independant electrical system that runs on battery when breakers are pulled. Reduce power drain by transmitting less frequently.

Buiod a system that must respond when interrogated with a special code IF both conventional transponders are shut down.
flyingj481 1
This doesn't provide a means to quickly shut it off in an electrical emergency. If on fire or over-heating it may be inoperative and unable to accept the 'special code'. Additionally, if someone wanted, they could still find a way to get the code to turn it off in the case of a hijacking.

Not to mention the additional cost and weight of adding this kind of system and having it FAA certified.
Rich Greene 1
I'm no aviator but I've been thinking a lot (kinda dangerous for a 72 yr old). Make black box batteries so they last longer. Also there should be enough room somewhere in the tail or fuselage to install a long wire antenna 5 miles long (like the doomsday 747) that would deploy automatically in the event of a water landing or crash. It would send the emergency beacon signal out further and keep the search area down to five miles or so.
Elizabeth Robillard 3
Yeah baby. The P3 remains a workhorse.
Jason Wladyka 1
So that would make the U-2 Dragon Lady the Great Granddaddy of US recon planes?
Bill Fox 1
does anyone here know which defense contractors are supporting the radar and sensor systems, and also operator consoles on these planes, it used to be Lockheed Eagan and now Eagan is no longer, thanks for any info
Fred Christensen 1
The P3 is still used during Hurricane Season in the Tropics. This bird is flown into the Eye of a Hurricane to obtain real time data telemetry. Thus called "Hurricane Hunter"
Rich Greene 1
There's Gonzo, Miss piggy, and Kermit. With Kermit being the Learjet they use. Miss Piggy was laid up for maintenance last I heard.
kenish 1
Two other reasons xpdrs need to have an OFF switch:
- On the ground. ATC does not want to clutter their screen with taxiing aircraft.
- To prevent congesting or swamping the ATC system. Standard procedure arriving and departing the Oshkosh airshow is xpnder OFF. The flood of aircraft will slow or crash the computers at ATC, misassign targets to data tags, and cause nonstop conflict alerts on the controller's screen.
Dale Nuss 3
As a former ATCer, I can say with certainty that there are some exceptions, (just like most things in aviation: no absolutes). At most major airports, while you are taxiing on the ground, it is requested that you operate with your txpndr on. This is for the Airport Surface Detection Equipment (ASDE). Doing so assists ATC ground control with airport movements, especially in low visibility conditions. That way they can differentiate between aircraft and trucks, tugs, etc.
Chris B 1
The only way they are going to find the wreckage is getting ships on the water equipped to read whats going on under the surface. The Strait isn't very deep.
bigkahuna400 -2
Can someone explain the reasoning behind giving pilots the ability to turn on/off a transponder on a commercial airliner. In my opinion, boeing should make this impossible to do. There is absolutley no reason to be able to turn this device off once an airliner is delivered. Just my 2 cents worth.
Hal Gates 4
Because there are multiple transponders onboard. I've seen transponders start squawking bogus codes, and to fix the problem the pilot had to turn one off and turn the other on.
Elizabeth Robillard 2
Right on. How many times has Center directed us to turn off the transponder, then turn it bac on because they want to verify the correct signal or because the aircraft isn't emitting properly. It's a simple reset.
flyingj481 3
In addition to the erroneous data, an inflight fire would be the other reason you would want to turn it off.
The transponder does NOT keep the plane in the air. It's a component that when used in concert of others assists the aircraft within the ATC system. EVERY component in the aircraft should be able to be manipulated by the flight crew as they are the persons responsible for managing the systems. It's about doing the job, not inhibiting it.
bigkahuna400 -5
No commercial airliner should be allowe to fly with it off...simple as that,,,cant be seen, can fly for hours with it off, unseen by other traffic.....ok, it can have a reset button on it.....but the ability to turn off identification is no acceptable in this day and age of technology. If it fails, then shold be required to land immediately at nearest airport.
DashTrash 5
What happens when the transponder is the cause of a buss fault, and taking it offline will bring back the rest of the systems on that buss?

There should never be any piece of equipment installed on an airplane that cannot be turned off by the crew, either by a selector on the equipment or through a circuit breaker. One of the reasons you don't read about very many in-flight fires is because we can turn shit off when required.
flyingj481 4
Seriously? What's next? Hard wire the coffee pot and if it fails require an immediate landing?

And why would a transponder failure (or multiple transponder failures in the case of a commercial airliner) require an immediate emergency landing? It is not an object that is essential to the safety of the flight. Is it useful? Sure. But come on. While tragic, this situation is extremely rare. Forcing a change to hard wire a transponder, with no means of corrective action by the crew in the event of a failure, is ridiculous. Will you be on here saying that they should change it back the next time one catches fire and the crew can't stop it because they have no ability to remove the source of electricity? If it results in a fatal crash will that be OK because a terrorist didn't have the option to turn it off? What if resetting it doesn't fix the bad altitude reading and there is a mid-air collision because the controller doesn't see the problem? You can't change how things work because of a knee-jerk reaction.
Fred Christensen 2
We always pulled the breaker on any suspected component ...process of elimination.
n9341c 1
Please stay off sites/responses when you don't know what you are talking about. Transponders, like LOTS of electrical equipment on board an airplane, generate HEAT and MUST have an OFF switch. If you forced the transponder to be ON in all situations you would be the same yahoo clamoring for an OFF switch the next time an airliner went down due to fire generated from a malfunctioning transponder.

Please - go back to your gardening forum or wherever the hell you came from.
CosmosKidd 0
The first military tactical/recon acft I ever flew in was an EP-3B Aries out of a little island called Diego Garcia. We went an grab some polaroids of a brand new Russki warship names "Minsk" that was headed over to the PACFLT at Vladivostok. The Aries had a cracked windshield and leaked stuff ALL OVER. The crew said that it was the oldest airframe in the fleet. The preflight brief said we'd be in the air for a little under 14 hours. aboyt 2 hours in, the flight engineer comes running back into the ops spaces pulling up floor tiles and looking inside the guts of the plane with a flashlight and a look of deep concern. I almost ruined my fruit of the looms when he let out a scream and then looked at us with a look of amazement on his face and then held up a styrofoam box "We got fried chicken in our box lunches!" then he smiled and I started breathing again. NAVY Aviators. Fun guys. I am keeping the folks associated with MH370 in my prayers. I hope they find something soon.The funny thing abouth this seems to me, is that that is not a very "lonely" part of the Worlds seas. I am beginning to think it may not have come down in the water. just a gut feeling, don't know why.

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