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Would This Be Possible?  
User currently offlineVictor Hotel From Australia, joined Aug 2000, 305 posts, RR: 1
Posted (14 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 2661 times:

After last weeks devastating terrorist attacks, it had me thinking. Would it be possible to have like a safety override like system on aircraft. I thought that there could be a pre determined route set into the autopilot, that would land the aircraft automatically. It could be triggered by air traffic control, if the flight went off course, there was no response from the crew etc. It would then disable all controls in the cockpit and land the plane automatically, it could be switched off by a code the pilot could type in if it was mistakenly activated, or they could prove to control that it was a mistake. Is this possible to do?

10 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineTrent800 From Belgium, joined Sep 2001, 9 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (14 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 2552 times:

Actually, what you are saying is, in modern jetliners like Boeing 757-767, and certainly the current Airbus families of airliners, that rely hard on computers for flight, already possible. Pilots can already be made redundant, because modern technology is able to let the aircraft take-off off its own, fly on its own and land on its own, but this system is turned of easily. For autopilot it gets even turned of when pressure is excerted on the control column. Actually, the fully automated flight is for some time now being concidered as a possibility for the future. Some people even say that in the future there will only be one single person in the cockpit of whatever aircraft, accompanied by a dog. The dog is for companion, but also to bite the person if he wants to touch anything in the cockpit and interfere with the flying. So what you are saying, is possibly a way in which aircraft control will evolve.


User currently offlineFBU 4EVER! From Norway, joined Jan 2001, 998 posts, RR: 7
Reply 2, posted (14 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 2531 times:

If you mean that the plane should be remotely controlled from the ground in a case like this,then it will also be possible for others to interfere with the plane and we would be even worse off because there would be no need for a Kamikaze pilot on board.

"Luck and superstition wins all the time"!
User currently offlineAirways From Switzerland, joined Mar 2001, 880 posts, RR: 11
Reply 3, posted (14 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 2526 times:

Nice idea, but that wouldn't help too much. Just imagine if there were hijackers in such an airplane, which is flying automatically. When they start to kill people in the cabin, wouldn't the captain type in this code to disable the system??


User currently offlineZionstrat From United States of America, joined Apr 2001, 226 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (14 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 3 hours ago) and read 2490 times:

Here's a similar thread:


User currently offlineSailorOrion From Germany, joined Feb 2001, 2058 posts, RR: 5
Reply 5, posted (14 years 8 months 1 week 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 2480 times:

I imagine this system (I think I mentioned it somewhere here already, but I am not sure): If a hijacking occurs, the pilots (and ANY other crewmember) is able to enter a code from some place in the airplane (I think the intercom system is suited best for it, since it is distributed over the entire cabin and cockpit), which puts the airplane into hijack-mode including
a) setting of the transponder
b) disabling all the controls in the cockpit (unrecoverable from inside the fuselage)
c) search for a suitable emergency landing field
d) contacting ATC informing them of the situation (incl. number of pax, crew, fuel and landing site)
e) performing an autoland at that landing field
f) knocking out everybody aboard by injecting some nice sleeping gas into the entire life-support system (including backups and emergencies)

A system like this requires fundmental change in both airliner and ATC design such as
a) digital ATC information
b) full autopilot including all major and minor functions
c) many other things that make this system unsuitable for retrofitting, just new designs

Most important thing about such a system is that entering such a mode MUST be a one-way road, once entered, no one is able to regain control of the aircraft until it has landed and been unsecured by some manufacturer's special personnel, or police, NTSB or FAA officials or whatever. (You can display some nice Windows blue-screens in the monitors to cause some confusion)

I know there would be many objections about a system like it and I wish security was not needed, but we dont live in a perfect world.


User currently offlineNotar520AC From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 1606 posts, RR: 3
Reply 6, posted (14 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 2429 times:

They have one of those in fighters now.

BMW - The Ultimate Driving Machine
User currently offlineJsuen From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 211 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (14 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 2409 times:


I don't think it would be that difficult for fly-by-wire aircraft. Airport data can be taken from the FMS, Airbus computers already can lock pilots out (to a certain extent), and ATC can just recognize the squawk and clear traffic. The only thing I can think of is that circuit breakers would have to be electronic, which makes an interesting problem.

However, this system would have the same issues as the cockpit door: just as Airways points out, one could threaten to blow up the plane if the system is activated.

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want every flight attendant being able to activate a lockout.

User currently offlineMetwrench From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 750 posts, RR: 2
Reply 8, posted (14 years 8 months 1 week 2 days 13 hours ago) and read 2403 times:

Yes, I'm sure it is possible, but the flying public couldn't afford the ticket price.

As a Mechanic, I like and appreciate "automatic" systems, and as much as I like to flame pilots, I want a human flight crew in the cockpit.

It's much more fun to harangue at over bearing egotistical humans than a computer.

User currently offlineSailorOrion From Germany, joined Feb 2001, 2058 posts, RR: 5
Reply 9, posted (14 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 2359 times:

That's why I said the system should be a one-way. Even if a terrorist threatens the crew, there is nothing they can do. The airplane would have to land in order to restore normal operation.


User currently offlineL-188 From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 30408 posts, RR: 57
Reply 10, posted (14 years 8 months 1 week 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 2351 times:

The way the FAA works, it would take them ten years to develop, another 5 to certify, at that point an AD would be issued to the airlines to retro-fit, probably with another 2-3 year time frame to do that.

And about halfway through the process somebody with a Radio Shack frequent buyers club card would have figured out a transmitter to override it, or worse lock airplanes out of control from their pilots.

At that point they would have to take them out of service because there would be a new technology that everybody was using that would make the system obsolete...

Kind of sounds like MLS landing systems EH? Or the Air Traffic Control upgrades they have been talking about.

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