There are companies selling 3G/4G pico-cells for aircraft use in flight -- just because it is not done here in the US does not mean it is not done elsewhere -- some rely on K-Band links that are also used for In-Flight-Entertainment systems (video, internet -- passenger data only -- non-certified for flight data, others rely on terestrial networks
I don't see how this is a problem. he's not suggesting that you replace the pilot with electronics, but rather just have a non-accessible becon in case of hijaking. Makes sense to me. Maintenance on the electronics could be done just like all the rest of the parts of the plane and be expected to have the same life of service.
There's a big "DUH" here: this was an AIRPLANE, where 1. No cell phones are supposed to even be on, and 2. there isn't any cellphone infrastructure in the middle of an ocean. In a case like this, ALL cellphones and other electronics using that technology are DUMB. I thought you are all engineers, or at least somewhat cinversant with technology!
Problem is the reliability of a beacon is < 100K hrs the reliability of the pilot / co-pilot is > 1 million hours statistically -- you would be putting several circuit boards that over time can flex, delaminate, or otherwise fail -- and sometimes there is smoke when these fail -- boards are better than a bunch of wires, but they still will fail in the aircraft environment of pressure, temperature and vibration
On the catestrophic failure -- unlikely but not impossible -- There have been airliners with 12 foot long chunks blown out of the passenger compartment, and several seat-rows pulled out into the air that continued to fly either to landing or hundreds of miles from the point of failure, as did a 747 with structural failure near the tail -- depending on where a failure or intentional damage occured many possibilities exist -- The 777 is a pretty robust aircraft when it comes to staying in the air, with many critical systems replicated 3, and 4 times in many cases. Given this, normally there is normally only one Transponder, only one radio is normally routed to the ACARS, and the aircraft only carries one SATCOM. If the airline purchased an HF Data-Link system that also should have continued to respond along with the SATCOM out over the ocean, periodically checking in with it's network, so a bit of a mystery there. Also the articles do not say if the ACARS and Transponder were powered down via the controls (sends a final status indicating a controlled disconnect ) or just stopped sending signals due to any one of many reasons, (power interuppted, breaker pulled, RF conditions or others) The NTSB is very experienced here in the US, however there is no international counterpart for these overseas incidents, and a smaller country with limited local aerospace presence may be stretched too thin to capture all the details
Well, indications available so far seem to suggest catastrophic failure is out of the question. These include the continued satcom signal and the radar tracks (after the transponder went offline).
The real problem is that some of these details were not divulged until this past weekend and yesterday. So all I'm saying is that the theories of what might have happened need to incorprate the new data.