Planes are renowned as one of the safest forms of travel. However, it’s hard to deny the 1,918 accidents which have happened since the 1920s. Due to the nature of the accidents, it has led to a tragic loss of life that reaches into the 20,000s. Every time a person gets on a plane, they take a little bit of a risk.
But, the reports for the past couple of years have been optimistic. Indeed, 2017 was the safest year for commercial airlines on record. The spike is moving in the right direction and technology is to thank.
Here are examples of how technology is revolutionizing the industry.
There are countless examples of planes crashing on their final descent. Sometimes, the pilots are to blame as it’s human error. Other times, it’s the terrible weather conditions. And sometimes, it’s a complete lack of friction on the runway. The plane’s massive tires need to make heat to stop a fast-moving airliner. Only recently, a Pegasus Airlines flight skidded off the track and onto a cliff. Experts believe that the introduction of a runway friction tester limits the chances of this happening. Considering global warming is getting worse, it’s a vital piece of kit.
‘EFB’ stands for Electronic Flight Bag, and it’s an onboard computer with powerful memory. In fact, it can complete a range of cockpit tasks which used to be apart of the captain’s mandate. It also acts as a map thanks to the moving computer display. An EFB was necessary because of the semi-regular runway incidents. Some were scary but innocuous, whereas the KLM Flight 4805 and Pan Am Flight 1736 crash was a disaster. The ‘Tenerife Air Disaster’ is the deadliest on record and killed over 550 people.
In 1997, a Korean Air flight crashed into a hill on its approach to Guam airport. The plane was fine from a mechanical point of view, yet 89% of the people on board died. People were keen to know why, and the answer was a lack of communication in the cockpit. What happened next was one of the greatest advancements in air safety in the past 20 years. Due to this incident, safety experts invented the Electronic Ground Proximity Warning System. Now, should the crew misjudge and miscalculate, the EGPWS kicks in and provides valuable info.
The computer pilot doesn’t do any of the heavy lifting. For the takeoff and landing, the humans in the cockpit are in charge. However, it takes the slack during the steady and painless part of the flight. Once the data is inputted, the digital captain takes the strain off the flight deck. Now, the most important people on board can catch up on much-needed rest. As recent as 2009, a tired pilot overshot the runway by 600 miles. And, in 2010, an Air India captain was reportedly ‘snoring’ before a fatal accident.
Ultimately, advancements in technology are making air travel and safer and more comfortable place.