The National Transportation Safety Board has asked the FAA to help in coming up with mandatory technology to be installed in aircraft so their location can be pinpointed within 6 miles of the crash.
These two technology challenged agencies of Government will no doubt, meet for years, establish a task force, contract with industry to come up with suggestions and after spending 100 million dollars or so will come up with the simple answer. It’s called GPS. Instead of wasting taxpayer money, someone at the NTSB should pick up the telephone and call UPS and Fedex. Those two companies know where everything they own is at all times. They can even track your packages so you know where what you entrusted to them is at all times. In other words, this is not rocket science, or even science, it is applied technology that already exists.
Another simple and inexpensive method is to modify the maintenance tracking software that already exists on many commercial aircraft such that it discloses position as well as the health of the aircraft.
That data is already transmitted by satellite to airline maintenance departments and some manufacturers. Adding a line of data would be almost costless.
What will now happen is these two sleepy agencies will convene a seminar at great cost. A paper will no doubt be written and awards given for unique achievements in the field of aviation. A dinner will be held to acknowledge this achievement and ten years from now simple changes that could have been installed yesterday will finally be mandated but only for new airplanes not for the ones that are already flying.
This of course is after a Notice of Proposed Rule Making is issued. A lengthy comment period will follow. Industry will complain that changes aren’t necessary because so few airplanes crash and most don’t crash into the sea never to be found. Complaints will be made about the cost and each comment will be investigated. The rule will become final anyway unless politicians get involved and weigh in on behalf of the airlines and manufacturers. If that happens, then the entire matter will be reopened and studied some more. This is the reason nothing gets timely done to improve aviation safety.
Arthur Alan Wolk