Chicago’s Roman Pucinski: “Father” of airplane black boxes

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The disappearence of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 is the peg for Real Clear Politics Carl Cannon to remind us in his Friday morning note that the “father” of the airplane black box was Chicago’s Roman Pucinski, who, when a member of Congress from a North Side district (he later became an alderman) sponsored the legislation in 1959 to require the data recorders be installed on all civilian planes.

Cannon essay excerpt: “To be sure, the airlines and federal regulators opposed him. The airlines protested the cost; regulators advanced the dubious theory that crash investigators might be misled by the panicked, last-minute utterances of doomed pilots.The pilots themselves were strongly supportive of Pucinski’s efforts. Their view was that the aircraft manufacturers were blaming pilots for crashes that were mechanical failures and the airlines were passing the buck to the flight crews for their own maintenance shortcomings. The pilots were willing to take their chances on the new technology.

“…At a 1998 ceremony held at the Polish Museum of America in Chicago, FAA Administrator Jane Garvey presented him with the agency’s Silver Medal of Distinguished Service. …His daughter, Aurelia Pucinski (then a Cook County Circuit Court clerk and now a state court appellate judge), got chuckles from the audience when she suggested to Garvey that black boxes might be renamed “Pucinski Boxes.” That hasn’t happened, and likely won’t, but her father’s contribution lives on.”

Read the entire Cannon piece HERE.

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