In the heavy iron world there is a push for better flight data recorders. FAA and NTSB has asked for more accuracy, more recording time and more robustness to the hardware. It helps tremendously with accident investigation but also in identifying precursors. There are now so few accidents in the scheduled airline world that to move the needle appreciably we have to study non-accident flights and look for patterns that indicate a weakness or consistently poor operational procedure.
It’s also happening in the GA world that Flight Data loggers are becoming more prevalent. They aren’t nearly as sophisticated as what the airlines use but they are helping to identify accident causes and to protect manufacturers from spurious product lawsuits. One major GA manufacturer has started installing them, standard on new aircraft, since the pending suits have tripled in the last several years although NTSB seldom finds fault with the aircraft.
In case you weren’t aware, almost every car built in the last decade or so has a “black box” or event recorder that is used in accident reconstruction to determine what really happened. It’s significantly changed how often a manufacturer is considered culpable. Since other drivers are often involved in car wrecks, unlike aircraft, it really helps to sort through selective memory and objectively determine what really happened.
Will this help to GA’s product liability issues which raise the cost to all pilots and companies? How do you feel about having a box on board your aircraft that is keeping tabs on your behavior? Good idea or just another intrusion on privacy?