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air safety

Jan 5, 2013

The link between unsung hero David Warren and QF32

A new QF32 interview adds momentum to moves to recognise the genius of David Warren, the black box inventor who has been forgotten by his own country

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The ugly reality of the damaged wing and engine back in Singapore: Airbus image

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.

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.

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands has reported and analysed the mechanical mobility of humanity since late 1960 - the end of the age of great scheduled ocean liners and coastal steamers and the start of the jet age. He’s worked in newspapers, radio and TV in a wide range of roles as a journalist at home and abroad for 56 years, the last 18 freelance.

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2 comments

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2 thoughts on “The link between unsung hero David Warren and QF32

  1. Graeme Lane

    I’m not sure it was the “Canberra bureaucracy” resisting the black box. The Department of Civil Aviation was based in Melbourne at the time and didn’t move to Canberra until the late 1970s.

    Love the idea of the David Warren International Airport regardless.

  2. John Hargrave

    How about calling the new airport Lawrence Hargrave Airport-after all the ‘Mad Kite Flyer’ gave his plans to the Wright Brothers.

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