Flight Data Recorder
From a system viewpoint, prevention is a great deal less expensive than accidents. Two Boeing 737 accidents remain entirely unexplained at this time (Colorado Springs, 1992; Pittsburgh, 1994). Both airplanes had older digital flight data recorders that did not record control surface positions; that information might very well have led to an unambiguous finding of probable cause. In sharp contrast, the Aerospatiale ATR-72 that crashed after extended flight in icing conditions ( Roselawn, Indiana, 1994), was equipped with a modern digital flight data recorder whose data enabled investigators to discover, literally within days of the accident, that icing had disturbed airflow over the ailerons beyond the pilots' ability to maintain control. It has been suggested that a substantial fleet could have been equipped with modern flight data recorders for less than the costs of the two 737 accidents.
Some of the innovations discussed here are clearly needed...
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