Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Are We Watching an Airline Safety Revolution?

AeroMechanical Services Ltd. (TSX:V-AMA)
Basic Shares: 118.58 million
Fully Diluted: 134.33 million


A revolution is like a slow-burning forest fire.
It takes a spark to set one small patch ablaze and it grows and grows until it is impossible to stop.

Such is the case with AeroMechanical Services.


The spark in this case was a little-noticed recommendation contained in the third interim report by the European aviation accident investigation agency looking into the tragic accident of the Air France flight 447 that fell into the south Atlantic Ocean just over two years ago.

The Bureau d’Enquetes et d’Analyses (BEA) recommendation was that the International Civil Aviation Organization and the European Aviation Safety Agency require triggered data transmission from an aircraft in flight in the near future.

This innocuous-sounding recommendation could usher in a new era of airline passenger and crew safety.

Essentially, it could result in a NASA-like approach being adopted by the airline industry where aircraft, like spacecraft, are richly monitored back on earth and ground-based experts are there to help pilots resolve in-flight issues in hopes of preventing accidents.

Currently, there is a deeply-rooted tradition in the airline industry where pilots have sole responsibly to resolve on board problems.

NASA, on the other hand, can detect when an astronaut's heart rate changes from millions of miles out in outer space and a variety of experts are always available to help astronauts with on board issues.

It's a dramatically different approach.

Yet this key BEA recommendation has been completely missed by the international press, which pounced en masse on this story with a steely focus on why AF447 failed, not on how this accident may lead the airline industry to a much better way forward.

Many factors will come into play before the hope this recommendation kindles turns into a full-blown revolution in airline safety.

The airline industry can be ponderously slow at adopting new technologies as evidenced by the 10-year battle Australian scientist, Dr. Peter Warren, endured to get his aircraft black box invention made mandatory in the first place.
Still, this is one of the most fundamentally significant moves on the issue of data streaming that AeroMechanical has witnessed.

To read more about the BEA story, please click here.