Air Crashes that gave birth to the future technologies in Aviation

Air Crashes that gave birth to the future technologies in Aviation

Air Crashes that gave birth to the future technologies in Aviation

You have always found yourself reading and learning about new advancements in the field of aviation but have you ever wondered from where these new advancements come from, are all of them a result of a team of 100 members sitting in a boardroom and inventing new technologies. Not all of them come from the boardroom most of them are a result of unfortunate air crashes that have happened across the globe. Yes, air crashes are very painful but they have been the main reason behind some revolutionizing aviation advancements.

So come let’s discuss some of the major advancements that have arrived into the world due to some unfortunate air crashes in past twenty or thirty decades.

1. The invention of the Traffic Collision Avoidance System

TCAS is a system in which both the aircraft in air communicate with each other with the help of transponders fitted on both of them, then a computer system on both of them calculates the altitude that the aircraft should gain to avoid collision with other aircraft. To know more about TCAS click here

Until the late 90’s only the Air Traffic Control (ATC) was responsible for regulating the air traffic up in the sky and avoid collisions between different aircrafts but in 1956, a TWA plane crashed into a United Airlines flight above the Grand Canyon. The incident was the first of many that illustrated the need for increased communication between planes. After that FAA was formulated and TCAS system was made mandatory for all the airlines to get fixed on their aircraft which has almost eliminated the cases of air midair collisions of two aircraft.

Though a major drawback of TCAS system came forward by another air crash which happened between a commercial flight and cargo aircraft in which both the aircraft were carrying a functional TCAS system on board but the protocol being followed by the pilot in commercial flight was to keep the decision of TCAS above ATC and that by the pilot in cargo flight was to keep the decision of ATC above TCAS, both the pilots followed the decisions as per the protocols and in the end both of the aircrafts found themselves at the same altitude and crashed into each other.

2. Weather Sensing Radars

You will fell turbulence in every other flight flying in airfield across the globe, not always the pilot is the reason behind those shaky and noisy flights. It is the weather outside which brings in too much turbulence and uneasy flights. Sometimes this weather turns so hostile that it may result in major catastrophic air accidents. Delta Airlines Flight 191, which crashed in 1985 while approaching Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport in a thunderstorm in an example of weather being the reason behind the air crash. Rain is another thing but if a pilot comes in a thunderstorm or a wind current it can pick and throw the aircraft on the ground like nothing.

The weather sensor is not a very complicated device but is indeed a very important one, it senses the weather conditions near the aircraft and gives the information about those conditions in the cockpit so that the pilot can decide his flying direction accordingly. The major condition that the weather sensors detect are the wind shear, a wind shear is a condition in which the speed of air varies along the horizontal and vertical direction. Getting into a wind shear is very easy and you may never come out of wind shear until you are very lucky.

Aircraft weather sensing

3. Leg Space between seats

Though you may feel a bit cramped while traveling in the economy class flights but still they are under set standards by the international governing bodies. Due to increasing fuel prices, airlines started directing the airframe manufacturers to have a maximum number of seats in an aircraft which gave rise to aircraft having lesser leg room between the seats. Then came forward a tragedy in which British Airtours 737 caught fire before takeoff at Manchester International Airport in 1985 and passengers were unable to eject from the aircraft due to lesser space between seats which created a panic and most of them burnt to death.

The incident gave rise to research work around the globe and Canfield Institute came up with a research which proved that through the emergency doors were open but there was no space between seats as well as between seats and emergency doors for people to eject.

This gave rise to proper and stringent standards about the leg room between seats in an aircraft. 

Aircraft seats

4. Electric spark elimination

Everybody was stunned after hearing about the TWA flight 800 which exploded midair, A Boeing 747 carrying 230 people from JFK to Paris turned into a huge explosion killing all the people on board. After investigating the wreckage NTSB dismissed any possibility of any terrorist activity. Further investigations revealed that the aircraft caught fire due to the partially empty fuel tank which started burning when a spark was generated in an electrical wire.

The FAA after this incident gave out guidelines according to which all the potential spark producing wirings should be checked prior to flight and they should be changed if there is even a small chance of a spark. Boeing also worked on the issue and created fuel tanks having argon gas filled in them, argon being inert gas reduces the chances of fire in the fuel tank.

5. Jet Engines Capable of bearing bird strikes

There is no specific air crash behind this advancement, but everyone can relate to it remembering the heroics of Captain Sully who showed his heroics by landing US Airways flight 1549 in the Hudson River on 15th August 2009 saving the lives of 155 people on board. Captain and his second in command glided the aircraft to Hudson River and then landed the aircraft in the river. As the aircraft met a midair bird strike and lost both of its engines in midair.

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Researches were carried on by various agencies across the globe and then came an idea of developing an engine having fan blades which can withstand bird strike without losing the aerofoil shape of the fan blades as well as the thrust produced by the engine. Then within a span of certain years, fan blades were developed which were capable of bearing bird strikes without any damage to them. Later on, FAA has made it mandatory for all the new engines to undergo bird ingestion testing in which a jet engine is made to undergo a bird strike in testing range and its performance parameters are captured.

Aircraft bird strike

Thanks for reading!

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