Victor Hotel
Topic Author
Posts: 289
Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2000 8:29 pm

Would This Be Possible?

Thu Sep 20, 2001 5:17 pm

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?
Posts: 8
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2001 7:47 pm

RE: Would This Be Possible?

Thu Sep 20, 2001 7:53 pm

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.

Posts: 980
Joined: Sat Jan 27, 2001 6:53 am

RE: Would This Be Possible?

Thu Sep 20, 2001 8:05 pm

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"!
Posts: 852
Joined: Sun Mar 11, 2001 7:35 pm

RE: Would This Be Possible?

Thu Sep 20, 2001 8:06 pm

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??

Posts: 225
Joined: Sat Apr 28, 2001 3:26 am

RE: Would This Be Possible?

Fri Sep 21, 2001 1:00 am

Here's a similar thread:
Posts: 1960
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2001 5:56 pm

RE: Would This Be Possible?

Fri Sep 21, 2001 1:15 am

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.

Posts: 1517
Joined: Sat Jul 21, 2001 6:53 am

RE: Would This Be Possible?

Fri Sep 21, 2001 7:09 am

They have one of those in fighters now.
BMW - The Ultimate Driving Machine
Posts: 204
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2001 2:36 pm

RE: Would This Be Possible?

Fri Sep 21, 2001 2:00 pm


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.
Posts: 715
Joined: Fri Aug 17, 2001 11:25 am

RE: Would This Be Possible?

Fri Sep 21, 2001 2:52 pm

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.
Posts: 1960
Joined: Tue Feb 06, 2001 5:56 pm

RE: Would This Be Possible?

Sat Sep 22, 2001 7:22 pm

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.

Posts: 29881
Joined: Wed Jul 07, 1999 11:27 am

RE: Would This Be Possible?

Sat Sep 22, 2001 8:41 pm

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.

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: BravoOne, Nean1, zmiko and 1 guest

Popular Searches On

Top Photos of Last:   24 Hours  •  48 Hours  •  7 Days  •  30 Days  •  180 Days  •  365 Days  •  All Time

Military Aircraft Every type from fighters to helicopters from air forces around the globe

Classic Airliners Props and jets from the good old days

Flight Decks Views from inside the cockpit

Aircraft Cabins Passenger cabin shots showing seat arrangements as well as cargo aircraft interior

Cargo Aircraft Pictures of great freighter aircraft

Government Aircraft Aircraft flying government officials

Helicopters Our large helicopter section. Both military and civil versions

Blimps / Airships Everything from the Goodyear blimp to the Zeppelin

Night Photos Beautiful shots taken while the sun is below the horizon

Accidents Accident, incident and crash related photos

Air to Air Photos taken by airborne photographers of airborne aircraft

Special Paint Schemes Aircraft painted in beautiful and original liveries

Airport Overviews Airport overviews from the air or ground

Tails and Winglets Tail and Winglet closeups with beautiful airline logos