The airplane’s black box

In the wake of the recent tragedy surrounding the Air France 447 flight, it appears that the plane’s recorder, or black box, is unlikely to be recovered. If the box were to not only help explain this plane’s accident but perhaps prevent future accidents, then this is unfortunate. The lead investigator held up a similar device in his hand — it appears to be relatively easy to handle. I am wondering whether or not there could be a floatation device attached to it that could make it more easily recoverable. I think that engineering can address the key questions involved in making this a viable option.

An immediate question that springs to mind is the time of the flotation deployment. Much like a raft that inflates, a parachute that opens, or an airbag that engages, such a device could be triggered by an event, perhaps something like a liquid sensor or an accelerometer.

Of course many other issues would have to be worked out, but I know nothing about this specialized field of engineering, so perhaps these things already have been employed. It seems like an idea whose time has come if it could perhaps give peace to loved ones and save future lives.

And of course, may families find peace in the wake of this tragedy.


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