New Technology Limits Need For Hard Landings

November 10, 2008 by  
Filed under Features

Up until now, the occasional hard landing probably left more than a few aircraft passengers breathing a huge sigh of relief to be back on terra firma. Most passengers probably did not realize that such hard landings have been mandatory from time to time up until now, as a way to check if the aircraft has any structural damage is present and the plane needs to go in for repairs.

Fortunately it seems that all that is about to change. New technology has been created for the express purpose of doing this diagnosis without the need for hard landings. The hard landing detector has been design to automatically search for any structural damage in the aircraft and so alert pilots as to whether or not such a landing is even necessary. The technology monitors things such as pitch and roll rates and angles, vertical speed, vertical acceleration, centre of gravity and the airspeed of an aircraft during landing. All this information is then carefully computed and the results are presented to the pilot on landing. Thus, the pilot will not necessarily need to make a hard landing, which is not particularly good for the aircraft or safe for the pilots and passengers. Instead this system will reliably compute all the related information and give an accurate estimate of how sound the aircraft is.

But will this prove better and safer than the traditional method of doing things? The experts think it will. According to Boeing’s statistics, nine out of ten pilot-initiated hard-landing inspections end with no finding of damage. While pilots attempt to be realistic about whether or not the aircraft requires further inspection after a hard landing, it is difficult for them to compute all the information that the new hard landing system will consider. Since people’s lives are potentially at stake, the new system shows a lot of potential for increasing current safety standards. While a hard-landing may still be performed once the pilot has been informed of potential structural damage by the system, these will be performed only when the software reports potential problems and not just on a regular basis as part of regular check-ups which often result in nothing being found. The new system is still in its infancy and a number of these detectors are due to be placed on a number of smaller aircraft so that a database of tell-tale landing features that may cause structural damage can be built up for future use.

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