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Speeches

Forum Emerging Flight Data and Locator Technology, Acting Chairman's Closing Statement, Washington, DC
Christopher A. Hart
Washington, DC
10/7/2014

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In closing, I would like to thank all of our panelists. Manufacturers of airframes, avionics, and new technologies, as well as representatives from operator and pilot groups, have brought their perspectives and enriched our knowledge of these emerging technologies. Representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration and the European Aviation Safety Agency, as well as from the International Civil Aviation Organization, have aired some of the challenges of finding the right balance in making changes.
It has been an illuminating day, especially from a systems perspective. Some of the technologies we examined today build on the existing avionics in civil aviation. Others are on completely new platforms.
Regardless of the platform, industry and regulators must work collaboratively to enable solutions that provide more efficient data recovery without compromising safety. That takes thoughtful and thorough consideration.
Today's presentations also shed light on some of the complexities introduced by these technologies that are not immediately obvious, sometimes even to the experts.
As we know from investigations, accidents result from a series of failures. In bringing together perspectives from throughout aviation and aviation safety, it has been our goal to broadly address some of the many interactions necessary to modify a highly successful commercial aviation system. The introduction of new technologies must not introduce new and unintended consequences.
More efficient recovery of data will mean quickly identifying that an event has taken place, determining the accident location, and retrieving the data to help determine the sequence of events that led to the accident.
In our age of non-stop data, it is easy to envision a future where we maximize use of all available assets. But it is not a simple process to get there.
More than 75 years ago, on July 2, 1937, a twin-engine Lockheed Electra was due to land at Howland Island in the Pacific.
The pilot was in communication with the Coast Guard cutter Itasca via radio. But according to the Itasca's crew, the pilot apparently could not hear their replies.
At 8:43 that morning, the pilot - Amelia Earhart - sent her final transmission. The captain of the Itasca commenced the first of many searches, but as is so well known, that airplane has never been found.
This summer, Amelia Rose Earhart symbolically completed her namesake's journey around the world. Along the way, ordinary citizens could track the progress of her flight online in real time.
While there are many challenges and complexities to broadly implementing technologies such as those discussed today, lost aircraft - and with them, lost data - properly belong in the last century.
In this century, the continuation of the safety journey will depend on a great deal of hard work, by those we heard from today and others, to ensure more effective data retrieval. We hope that the information we heard today will help the aviation community achieve that important goal.
We stand adjourned.