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Time to Develop a Backup to the Black Box

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Time to Develop a Backup to the Black Box

By Dr. Bob Uda

July 19, 2014



It is time for the U.S. government to fund a program for our high-tech industry to develop a backup system to the current flight data system otherwise known as the “black box.”  The black box has served our airline industry well for the past half century.  However, the first Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 black box is probably on the bottom of the deep Indian Ocean, and we will probably never be able to retrieve it.


The Ukrainian rebels had recovered the black box from the recent second Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, which they shot down, and the black box is probably in the hands of the Russians.  No telling what will happen to that black box or the recorded data.  The black box will probably be lost, stolen, or accidentally destroyed.  The Russians may also tamper with the data and provide false information to the world.


A black box may be inaccessible because it sank to the bottom of a deep ocean.  When an airplane nosedives or crashes into a solid surface, the impact may destroy or severely damage the black box.  An untrustworthy party or foe may retrieve a black box from a crash site and may destroy or manipulate the flight data.  There may be other reasons for not having the flight data available for the crash investigators to study.  Consequently, there appears to be a significant need for the U.S. government to fund industry to develop a backup system to the on-board black box.


I suggest that the backup system be a flight recorder integral to the Global Positioning System (GPS) to record and transmit to key designated governmental sites located around the world.  The GPS black box should record the same flight data that the on-board black box records during the final minutes or seconds of an airplane crash or disappearance.  This redundant data acquired electronically by the GPS black box will be available immediately no matter what happens to the on-board black box.  This redundant GPS black box will preclude any of the aforementioned problems with the on-board black box.  This is a rather simple solution to the problem.  Will someone take it and run with it?



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