Duncan Files Bill to Require Floating Black Boxes on Aircraft

Press release from U.S. Rep. John Duncan, R-Tenn. 02; February 6, 2015:

WASHINGTON– In response to recent aviation tragedies, Congressman John J. Duncan, Jr. (R-TN) and Congressman David E. Price (D-NC) introduced two bills Thursday to prevent lengthy searches for missing airliners by improving flight tracking and the recovery of in-flight data.

The Safe Aviation Flight Enhancement (SAFE) Act, sponsored by Rep. Duncan, would require the installation of floating “Black Box” data recorders on domestic commercial aircraft.

These recorders, which are already used in military aircraft around the world, eject on impact and immediately transmit a signal identifying the location of a crash site, thereby enabling quick recovery of missing aircraft and data critical to investigations. The requirement would apply only to newly manufactured aircraft in the United States.

The Safe Aviation Flight Emergency Tracking (SAFE-T) Act, sponsored by Rep. Price, would direct the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to require passenger aircraft to be equipped with technology to better identify and track instances when aircraft experience abnormalities or distress and to more quickly recover information when accidents occur.

“Had Malaysia 370 been equipped with a deployable flight recorder, it would have likely led to the plane’s discovery and provided closure for the families of those onboard,” said Congressman Duncan. “It also could have saved many millions of dollars in search costs that are still being accrued and possibly provide answers critical to preventing a future crash.”

“Unfortunately, the recent searches for Malaysia Airlines 370 and AirAsia 8501 are just the latest reminders of how desperately aviation recovery reforms are needed,” said Congressman Price. “These bills would vastly improve our ability to learn from aircraft in distress and would all but eliminate costly and dangerous searches for downed planes.”

The SAFE Act and SAFE-T Act would address several issues recently identified by the National Transportation Safety Board and bring domestic aviation regulations in line with international standards.

Jim Hall, who served as Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board for seven years, said the U.S. government has the responsibility to lead the implementation of new standards for flight recorder and distress tracking upgrades.

“I know I echo the praise by the passenger and victim family groups who appreciate the body of congressional leaders led by Congressmen Duncan and Price who have been unwilling to give up on efforts to ensure the industry implement some of these common sense and low cost aviation safety upgrades,” Hall said.  “Several crashes have occurred over the last 6 years, let alone the 14 years since I was Chairman, that continue to demonstrate the need for these technology upgrades. Floating Recorders, distress signals, 25 hour Cockpit Voice Recorders, and Cockpit Image Recorders are all existing, ready to install technologies.”

Congressman Duncan and Congressman Price first introduced the SAFE Act in the 108th Congress and the SAFE-T Act in the 113th Congress.  Both bills have been referred to the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Aviation.

Rep. Duncan is the former Chairman of the House Aviation Subcommittee and Current Vice Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.