NASA has crash tested a plane to test its emergency beacons, which are meant to activate within 50 seconds of a crash, but frequently fail.
“Too often they fail to work as expected, in part, because of inadequate performance specifications in several areas including vibration, fire survivability, automatic activation, crash safety and system installation,” said Chad Stimson, NASA Langley Emergency Locator Transmitter Survivability and Reliability (ELTSAR) project manager.
NASA is conducting the experiments to develop a fundamentally new beacon design.
The first crash test plunged a vintage 1958 4-seater plane into concrete.
The second test released a plane of the same design from a greater height above a muddy patch, which NASA said mirrored realistic crash conditions more closely, ‘RT.com’ reported.
The easiest way to call help during a crash is through the Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) which traditionally consists of two parts.
The first is an internal signal box, which is activated by impact or changes in water pressure.
If this happens, it prompts the second part, essentially a transmitter with an antenna, to beam a signal up to a satellite, which relays it to a search and rescue station in less than a minute.
The test Cessna was equipped with five ELTs fixed in various locations within the fuselage, as well as 40 cameras and 64 data recording points, to accurately map which parts of the plane would be most vulnerable during a crash landing.