The second disappearance of an airplane this year has spurred concerns over why the aviation industry remains unable to track aircrafts even as easily available consumer devices come equipped with navigation technology.
"There isn't a worldwide tracking system and the industry hasn't responded to put one in place, which is unfortunate," Jim Hall, managing director of Hall & Associates and former chairman of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, told CNBC. He noted that the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) is evaluating tracking systems, but he expects progress to be slow.
While modern airlines do have satellite communications and satellite coordinates for tracking capabilities, air traffic control cannot pinpoint a plane to an exact location. Tracking is still dependent on dual-system radar technology, which many experts say is outdated.
"The technology is not up to date on these airplanes, where they can be tracked within a quarter of a mile. That may happen sometime in the future," said Denny Kelly, principal of aviation investigative services firm Kelly James and Associates. "Some of these airplanes have satellite capabilities, but you have such vast distances that sometimes the information they get is inaccurate and sometimes they don't get any information at all."
The twin airplane disappearances this year of Malaysia Airlines MH370 this year and AirAsia flight QZ8501, as well as Air France flight 447 in 2009, have focused attention on why airplanes aren't transmitting around-the-clock information about their whereabouts and status.
To be sure, airlines do have efficient communication systems in place, noted Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor of FlightGlobal.
"Airplanes are always transmitting their locations via their transponders and communicating through radio. The case of MH370 was exceptional since the transponder was turned off. Suggestions for the transponder to be left on 24/7 are typically disliked by pilots since they want to be able to isolate it if the situation calls for it," Waldron said.