Ejectable black boxes back in the spotlight

An overdue proposal to equip commercial flights with ejectable black box recorders could be adopted in the aftermath of the AirAsia crash, according to aviation sources.

The International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) has been considering for years to outfit commercial airliners with detachable black boxes that float in water rather than sink. However, the AirAsia crash has put the proposal back on the agenda at the ICAO High-Level Safety Conference in February to ensure accident sites are found quickly.  

"The time has come that deployable recorders are going to get a serious look," an ICAO representative told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

The ICAO’s intention is to develop a global system to improve plane tracking and ensure that scenarios like the disappearance of Flight MH370 last year are less likely to happen.

As E&T news reported, the new tracking initiative will require planes to confirm their position every 15 minutes making it possible to pinpoint the exact route and last location.

The AirAsia plane from Surabaya, Indonesia to Singapore crashed off the coast of Borneo, killing 162 people. The research teams have found the tail of the plane, but bad weather has so far prevented the divers from finding Flight 8501’s black boxes.

The flight data and cockpit voice recorders, which could help determine the exact cause of the crash, were located in the rear of the aircraft. Underwater black boxes can only be detected over short distances.

However, in response to speculations over deployable recorders, the airline industry group the International Air Transport Association told Reuters: “There has not yet emerged an industry consensus on a mandate for ejectable flight data recorders.”

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