For anyone who has a passing familiarity with aviation, mention of the Bermuda Triangle is likely to provoke either laughter or chills. The exact boundaries of the triangle are a little vague, but it’s generally considered to be an area that is somewhere between Puerto Rico, Florida, and of course Bermuda.
Over the years a number of nautical mysteries—from the disappearance of a US Fighter Squadron during World War II to even the fabled City of Atlantis—have been associated with the region. Some even proposes that Malaysia Airlines MH370 crashed there. Never mind, that a thorough review of vessels and aircraft lost there reveals that not that many craft have actually disappeared and that those that did had very practical reasons for their disappearance. The Bermuda Triangle still holds a grasp over the minds of many. Like Area 51 or Troy, the Bermuda Triangle seems fated to forever remain steeped in speculation.
The atmosphere of mystery surrounding the Bermuda Triangle and the likes of Malaysia Airlines MH370 speaks to a current gap in aviation knowledge. Pilots can communicate their positions via radio, air traffic controllers can roughly trace a planes trajectory as long as it’s in range of radar, and planes can even share their own stories how they’ve disappeared with in the data-packed black boxes that they carry, if not the remnants of debris that are discovered. But the ocean is big, the world is big, and what Malaysia Airlines MH370 reminds us is that depending on where a plane is in the world, it very might fall into a blindspot.
Currently, plane’s locations are tracked via ground systems—the fatal reason for so many unexplained disappearance—but a new system aims to track the paths of airplanes via the air. FlightAware and Aireon LLC are collaborating on a project to develop a new satellite technology called ADS-B (automatic dependent surveillance – broadcast) receivers on several low orbit satellites. Dubbed Global Beacon, the project would bring up aviation intel to the internet age, allowing air traffic controllers to track planes in real-time via web-based tools.
Global Beacon is expected to be operational by 2018. Maybe then can we finally put the speculation behind disappearances to rest, and with them, the mythical Bermuda Triangles of the globe.