Jimmy Duncan - A Prescient Politician

John James "Jimmy" Duncan is a former Chairman of the United States House Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation.

In the United States, the "Safe Aviation Flight Enhancement (SAFE) Act of 2003" was introduced on June 26, 2003 by Congressman David Price and Congressman John Duncan  as a bipartisan effort to ensure investigators have access to information immediately following commercial accidents. On July 19, 2005, a revised SAFE Act was introduced and referred to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure of the U.S. House of Representatives. On March 12, 2014 in response to the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, Congressman David Price re-introduced the concept in the House of Representatives.

Source: Wikipedia

On July 19 2005 Jimmy Duncan sponsored a bill -
H.R. 3336 (109th): Safe Aviation and Flight Enhancement Act of 2005

To direct the Secretary of Transportation to issue a regulation requiring the installation of a second cockpit voice recorder and digital flight data recorder system that utilizes combination deployable recorder technology in each commercial passenger aircraft, currently required to carry each of those recorders.

The most salient parts of the long-dead 2005 bill are -

(3) In light of new commercial aviation advances, including increased polar flights, increased air traffic overwater, and the onset of free flight, there is increased potential for more difficult location and recovery of fixed flight recorder and cockpit voice recorder units.

(4) Hundreds of millions of dollars are unnecessarily expended to locate and recover "black boxes", especially in underwater investigations, despite existing deployable recorder technology currently used by the United States Armed Forces, which would allow us to avoid such unnecessary and wasteful costs.

(5) It is in the public’s best interest to accomplish these improvements by installing a second set of cockpit voice and digital flight data recorders that utilize a combined cockpit voice recorder, digital flight data recorder, and emergency locator transmitter system designed to eject from the rear of the aircraft at the moment of an accident, so that the system will avoid the direct impact forces of the crash, avoid becoming ensnarled in the wreckage or fire intensity of the crash site, and float indefinitely on water.

(6) The Navy’s successful experience since 1993 with deployable technology indicates that transfer of the commercial version of this technology into the commercial sector provides an obvious way to help us meet our goals to increase the survivability and retrieval of recorders while reducing the time and cost of a mishap, investigation, search, rescue, and recovery.

(7) Valuable time is lost searching for fixed flight data recorders in the wreckage of a crash site, especially at the bottom of the ocean, and critical data is unnecessarily lost in incidents in which the black boxes do not survive the crash circumstances, as is evident in reviewing some of our most recent and devastating air incidents, including the following:

 (A) Neither the flight data or cockpit voice recorder was recovered from American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175 that were used in the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001.

 (B) It took 3 days to recover the flight data and cockpit voice recorders from American Airlines Flight 77 that was used in the Pentagon attack on September 11, 2001. In addition, the cockpit voice recorder was damaged beyond repair, rendering no information.

 (C) It took 13 days to locate the cockpit voice recorder and 9 days to recover the flight data recorder from the air disaster involving Egypt Air Flight 990 in the vicinity of Nantucket, Massachusetts, air disaster on October 31, 1999.

 (D) With respect to Swiss Air Flight 111 International in Halifax, Canada, on September 2, 1998, it took search teams 9 days to locate the cockpit voice recorder and 4 days to recover the flight data recorder.

 (E) In the case of Valuejet Flight 592, which crashed on its way back to the Miami, Florida, airport on May 11, 1996, it took 15 days to recover the cockpit voice recorder, and 2 days to recover the flight data recorder from such flight because the underwater locator beacon failed.

 (F) With respect to TWA Flight 800 which exploded and crashed in the ocean in the vicinity of Moriches, New York, on July 17, 1996, it took 7 days to recover the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder.

I rarely agree with anything a politician has to say, but maybe it is time to mandate deployable black boxes.  I agree with the proposals on humanitarian grounds, but if anyone cares to support it on the grounds of search-cost savings, that's fine by me also.

Full text of bill here >>


Official press release from Office of Rep. David Price

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