Did you know it took nearly two years and $40 million to recover the flight data recorders from the 2009 Air France Flight 447 crash? Search teams are still looking for the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 plane that disappeared over 10 months ago. The search for the missing airliner has involved 26 countries and nearly 100 vessels.
In an effort to address the urgent need to quickly locate and recover flight data from downed aircraft, as well as learn more about crashes themselves, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a series of recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) through Administrator Michael Huerta. These recommendations highlight the need for cockpit image recorders on commercial flights, as well as rules preventing anyone onboard from tampering with voice and data recorders.
The recent crash of AirAsia Flight 8501 and the disappearance of Malaysia Flight 370 emphasize the need to improve technology related to flight data recovery and retrieval. Acting NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart said that in this day and age, losing aircraft should be a “thing of the past.” He added that with new technologies, search teams would not have to scour hundreds of miles of ocean floor in a race against the clock to find the so-called “black boxes.”
Below are the NTSB’s recommendations to the FAA:
- Aircraft used for extensive overwater operations must be equipped with a tamper-resistant method to broadcast position information to a ground station which can establish a final location within 6 nautical miles of any crash.
- Aircraft used for extensive overwater operations must be equipped with a low frequency underwater locating device that will function for 90-days and that can be located by commonly used detection equipment found on search and rescue vessels.
- Aircraft used for extensive overwater operations must be capable of recovering mandatory flight data parameters without the need for underwater retrieval.
- All existing and newly manufactured aircraft required to have voice and data recorders must be equipped with a crash-protected cockpit image recording system.
- Prevent anyone from disabling recorders on aircraft.
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