Reliance On Dated Technology Won’t Prevent Plane Crashes


The recent crashes of Germanwings Flight 9525 and Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 are tragic, but germane illustrations of the perils of the reliance on flight data boxes and the need to incorporate advanced technology for forensic and safety purposes in modern aircraft. (The data recorders from Malaysia 370 have never been found and the recorders from Germanwings 9525 were almost destroyed.)

Technology has advanced sufficiently in favor of supplemental programmed real-time data streaming. Besides implementing systems to detect the circumstances when real-time data streaming is appropriate, such systems could be expanded to detect potential peril and can alert ground personnel so that remote intervention to restore aircraft control could be attempted. The airline industry and major airframe manufacturers are not taking the appropriate initiatives to develop and advance these technologies and they aren’t being encouraged to do so by regulators.

As a former aerospace engineer who has devoted the past three decades to improving air safety through precedent-setting cases and by advocating for changes by manufacturers and for improvements in the regulations promulgated by the Federal Aviation Administration, I believe there is much more that we can do.

I discussed a few of these ideas and tech advancements in a recent article published by the legal news website, Law360. I’d like to share the article with you here.