The new black box? Tucson teen invents cockpit recording device

An Arizona teen says he has a solution to keeping track of what's going on in the air as it happens. FOX10's Marcy Jones reports.

- With so many questions remaining from the latest tragedy of EgyptAir flight MS804, many are asking what can be done to increase communication during an aviation emergency. A teenager is actually working on that right now and says he may have the answer.

That's right -- the young man we're talking about hasn't even graduated from high school yet, but he does have a pilot's license and says the time is now to improve outdated cockpit technology.

When Malaysia Airlines flight 370 disappeared in 2014, then 15-year-old Jeremiah Pate found himself asking the obvious.

"I thought in my head, how can we track a rover on Mars within a centimeter, yet we can lose an airplane in our own backyard?"

Now at 17, even though he can't vote yet, Pate is attempting to change the way we look at aviation safety recording devices.

"I'm a pilot, so I know the importance of having information, GPS coordinates and what not, so that's when I started thinking about this. I thought, well if Malaysia 370 went down, what do we have in place now and how can we prevent this from happening again?"

Pate says his device compresses the data on board and when something goes wrong, it transmits it all in one packet to ground control, which also compresses the cost.

"Streaming not just video, but any mechanical input continuously.. that's a huge cost, out of satellite or what not, so it stores all this information on board and then when something goes wrong, it sends that data down," explained Pate.

The high school junior says he has his sights set on the aviation industry -- one he says could use some improvements.

"If you think about it, we still fly on airplanes that were designed back in the 1950s, so aerospace is an industry that has parts to it that extremely far ahead in technology and extremely far behind in technology and it happens so that black boxes and tech like that is extremely far behind."

Pate hopes to start implementing the devices on private planes first, then go commercial.


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