A new system for passenger airplanes is getting a closer lookWe're learning new details about technology which could prevent another plane from suffering the same mysterious fate that 370 did.
By: CNN Staff, WDAY
We're learning new details about technology which could prevent another plane from suffering the same mysterious fate that 370 did.
A lost signal, a vanished plane, and on the ground, a feeling of complete helplessness.
But an idea has circulated to put auto-pilot on passenger planes on remote control in stressful situations.
In 2004, Boeing applied for a patent for a system referred to as 'uninterruptible auto pilot'.
Mark Weiss/ CNN Aviation Analyst: "The ground-controller could now take control away from the pilots, so that they wouldn't have control over the throttles, over the yoke, over the rudder-pedals, and now this would be handled by the ground. So everything now that the pilots would try to do would be inconsequential."
With this idea, pilots could flick a switch when under stress. Sensors in the cockpit could go off or sensors on the cockpit door could activate the ground-auto-pilot, if a certain amount of force was used against the cockpit door.
Then ground-operators could take control of the plane using radio or satellite signals, and steer it to a pre-determined airport.
They'd be flying it almost like a drone.
If Malaysia airlines flight 370 was hijacked or if a member of the crew purposely did something to alter the path, could this have saved that plane?
Weiss: "If in fact they determined that it was a problem, that- and they tried to get in touch with the pilot and the co-pilot and they couldn't- then if that system were in place, it seems as though the ground-controller could then have landed this aircraft."
Right now, auto-pilot systems are manually switched on and off only at the discretion of the pilots, in the air and auto-pilot can't land or take off.
But this potential solution could also present a new problem:
This wouldn't necessarily be hack-proof, right?
Mark Rasch/ Cyber and Privacy Expert: “This system wouldn't necessarily be hack-proof and so terrorists might be able to get into this data stream and force the plane to land or do whatever they wanted it to do."
Has Boeing advanced this idea from ten years ago? Is the company still testing it out or has it scrapped the idea entirely?
We tried multiple times to get information from Boeing on this project.
The company wouldn't speak to us about it.