The campaign by 10 year old Eve Cogan to have Canberra Airport named after the late David Warren, the Australian inventor of the ‘black box’ flight data recorder, has moved up a notch with a new interview she has posted with Captain Richard de Crespigny, who was in command of the Qantas A380 operating QF32 when one of its engine disintegrated after taking off from Singapore in November 2010.
It is a great interview, with some interesting additional insights, including a decision to delete a few paragraphs from his best selling account of the incident, QF32.
However the critical link between QF32 and David Warren is the extraordinary influence his invention had on aviation safety and the ability of safety investigators to use the latest version of his flight data recording vision to recover and examine in minute detail everything that happened in the most serious in-flight crisis ever to occur in a Qantas jet, with the wing and systems aboard the giant airliner severely damaged by the uncontained failure of one of the A380’s four engines.
Australia treated Warren poorly for making the single most important breakthrough in aviation safety with the original black box invention and its refinements. In fact it was an innovation fiercely resisted by this country’s aviation establishment, and that included the regulators, some of the airlines, and prominent pilots of the day, who resisted it as impinging on their professional status and autonomy.
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A centre of that resistance was in the entrenched mindsets of Canberra bureaucracy, making it especially fitting to suggest naming its airport after the inventor.