5:15 PM

A black box for GA aircraft, good or bad?

Not wanting to stir up any debate here, but is this a good thing or not:

Alakai Technologies Corp. has unveiled its Digital Flight Data System (DFDS) for Cirrus SR20 and SR22 aircraft. The safety product costs about $5,000 per unit, according to Brian Morrison, president of the company. The device is always on, monitoring engine and aircraft performance in real time and records 61 key aircraft, engine and flight parameters, creating a permanent safety record for flights.
You can slice this one many ways, but at least one large buyer of Cirrus aircraft thinks digital data recorders on GA planes is a great idea:
Steve Handey, president of Greenville, S.C.-based SATSAir, says he would consider putting the device in the more than 100 Cirrus planes he plans to have next year because it would help the company deal with the manufacturer and insurance companies if something happened.
I have to agree with Handey's way of thinking. If this system would lead to lower premiums, then full speed ahead. The NTSB loves the idea for obvious reasons, and the FAA currently does not require GA planes with fewer than 10 seats to be equipped with black box recorders.

Which leads to Big Question #1: Where does this leave the new crop of single-pilot VLJs about to sprout wings? Will VLJ airframes destined for air taxi work under part 135 (nine seats or less) be someday required to equip with a DFDS-type system? I’m going to research this and report back soon.

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