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Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370: Could Flyht Aerospace's Technology Have Saved Lives?


Technology from companies such as FLYHT Aerospace Solutions Ltd. (TSXV: FLY) could have shed light on what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 much sooner and might possibly save lives in the future. Investor interest in FLYHT’s stock, meanwhile, has increased since this unfortunate incident happened as industry groups have acknowledged that live streaming of flight data is something that needs to be seriously examined.

Lives lost in an airline disaster is a thought none of us want to consider. Try to imagine, though, the pain felt by family members and loved ones left behind, especially when no answers are forthcoming. 

Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370’s disappearance has become every traveller’s worst nightmare. Technological developments have undoubtedly made flying safer during the past 30 years, yet the curious case of MH370 shows that we still have much to learn.

This most recent tragedy has shone a spotlight on one Canadian company, FLYHT Aerospace Solutions Ltd. (TSXV: FLY), with a technology that could have provided some answers sooner. 

FLYHT’s primary product is the Automated Flight Information Reporting System, or AFIRS, which provides functions such as voice and text messaging through satellites, data collection and transmission, and on-demand streaming of a flight recorder’s ‘black box’ data.

The company’s innovation makes it possible for live flight data to be streamed from an aircraft in real time. So if an airplane encounters an emergency, vital data that is normally secured in the black box, as well as position information, will automatically be sent to designated sites on the ground. Airlines would know where the aircraft was when it last had electrical power and would know the behaviour of the aircraft at all times leading up to that point, including altitude, airspeed, direction/heading, engine state, doors open/closed, along with other parameters. 

In a recent interview with CBC News, FLYHT Aerospace President Matt Bradley said some airlines have been buying the company’s product for the past eight years, primarily for efficiencies, for monitoring their engines and fuel consumption, and these airlines did it, according to him, because it “made money for these the companies.”  

Bradley acknowledged, though, that even if MH370 was equipped with FLYHT’s technology, it may have been possible for the pilot to turn it off. The company, however, is looking into upgrading the product so that it can’t be tampered with in the cockpit.    
FLYHT Aerospace has stated that it costs less than $100,000 to install a new AFIRS system on an airplane plus a few dollars per flight hour to receive the data. But, will more airlines pay to install this technology unless required to do so? 

Recent statements by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) as well as the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) suggest that industry changes could be coming, as both organizations acknowledged that the live streaming of data is something that needs to be seriously examined following Flight MH370’s disappearance as well as the Air France crash off the coast of Brazil in 2009.

While answers to what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 may or may not be known when its ‘black box’ is found, live data streaming of flight information could deter future hijackers and prevent pilots from unwarranted flight-path deviations. From a public relations standpoint, however, it would almost surely be better than what Malaysia Airlines was faced with in not being able to provide immediate answers, prolonging the anxiety of the passengers’ families and potentially creating some ill feelings towards the airline. 

FLYHT Aerospace Solutions shares, meanwhile, surged 25% following the announcement of Flight MH370’s disappearance and continue to trade higher than before this happened. 

During the past year FLYHT’s stock price has also likely been boosted by a steady stream of company news, including several new contracts. Since 2010, FLYHT has increased its revenue every year from $4.7 million to $6.5 million in 2012, this while reducing its net loss from $9.0 million to $4.9 million over the same time period. 

Becoming consistently profitable, though, is one of FLYHT’s management objectives for 2014 says spokesperson Dave Burwell, who works on the company’s investor relations team. 

“There’s currently 350 aircraft with the AFIRS solution activated onboard,” he said, adding that it’s producing recurring revenue for the company, with each AFIRS box generating an average of $1200 per month. 

Robert McWhirter, President and Portfolio Manager at Selective Asset Management Inc., recommended the stock as one of his top picks in a December 2013, interview with (see interview here), with the price increasing about 43% since to its current value of 62 cents. McWhirter likes FLYHT’s recurring revenue model and added that the company’s sales have grown by 41% with recurring revenue currently 60% of its sales.    

The following article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.

Posted-In: Tech


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