Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Once again, the world is mesmerized by the search for the cause of a major commercial air catatrophe. As is always the case, the first order of business is the search for the so called "black box."

What is amazing is that nearly a half a century after landing on the moon; decades of launching thousands of telecommunications satellites tracked by advanced radio telemetry; decades of nautical practice utilizing satellite tracked emergency position indicating radio beacons (EPIRB), not to mention quantum advances in digital data communications technologies, we still rely on bright orange "crashproof" boxes filled with magnetic tape and a 30 day transponder to track commercial jet catastrophes.

The aeronautics industry undoubtedly has a litany of cost-benefit justifications for this Flintstonian approach. But it is amazing nevertheless. How many hundreds of thousands of passengers fly commercial aircraft every year. If you really want to be in a position to assure the public that the odds of a weather induced catastrophe are less than NIL, it would seem that an upgrade of flight telemetry and tracking systems is in order.

No expense will be spared in the search for the Air France black boxes in the deepest trenches of the Southern Atlantic (,0,3276994.story) and justifiably so. I would wager that the boxes will eventually be found. If you are wondering how, read about the Hughes Glomar Explorer which was built to hijack a lost Russian submarine in 1974. I am sure that France, the motherland of Jacques Cousteau will be there to meet the challenge.

But perhaps, just perhaps, it is time to take a careful look at the "black box" technology currently employed by the commercial airline industry. Has the "block box" advanced on the trajectory implied by Moore's Law?

You may say, "Hey Banzai7, what do you know about this? Its too complicated. Leave it to the experts." I say, "You know what, I have a device in my pocket that pinpoints my coordinates 24/7, it provides me with a constant two way data stream and will instantaneously deliver my GPS coordinates on a satellite map. Maybe Google should redesign the black boxes."

Note: WIKIpedia: On 19 July 2005, the Safe Aviation and Flight Enhancement Act of 2005 was introduced and referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the U.S. House of Representatives. This bill would require installation of a second cockpit voice recorder, digital flight data recorder system and emergency locator transmitter that utilizes combination deployable recorder technology in each commercial passenger aircraft, currently required to carry each of those recorders. The deployable recorder system would be ejected from the rear of the aircraft at the moment of an accident. The bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Aviation and has not progressed since.

Just found this in

1 comment:

  1. Air France jet with 228 people on board is feared to have crashed in the ocean off the coast of Brazil.
    Heard this on the radio earlier on my way back home from the mall. Air France flight AF 447 from Rio de Janeiro to Paris disappeared from the radar while flying over the Atlantic Ocean.
    The video from the scene:Air France jet-video-online