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The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 last year was a reminder that even as the skies have become more congested, communications between planes and air traffic controllers is badly out of date. Most countries still rely on 1950s-era radio communications and radar technologies and have not yet fully taken advantage of the smoother air traffic control procedures that satellite-based technologies such as the global positioning system (GPS) could provide. Progress to modernize these systems has been slow, but it is happening—countries are working to replace older aviation communication technologies, and such efforts should produce noticeable benefits in the next few years. Here’s an update on these programs.