One of Australia’s greatest scientists, David Warren, inventor of the black box flight recorder, has been posthumously awarded the prestigious Edward Warner Award.
The award was announced at the International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) 39th Assembly, a specialised United Nations agency established in 1944 with responsibility for civil aviation.
Australia’s Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Darren Chester, welcomed the award and credited Dr Warren’s invention with delivering one of the greatest single innovations to improve aviation safety across the globe.
Warren was a research scientist at the Aeronautical Research Laboratory (ARL) in Melbourne when he made his revolutionary invention in the 1950s. After the crash of a Fokker Friendship at Mackay (Queensland) in 1960, the inquiry judge strongly recommended that black box flight recorders be installed in all airliners. Australia then became the first country in the world to make cockpit voice recording compulsory.
Since that time, Warren’s invention, the black box flight recorder, has been universally adopted as a means to investigate accidents and to prevent their recurrence.
“This award highlights Australia’s long history of innovation and invention, with the black box flight recorder among the most recognised and used technologies throughout the world,” Chester said.
“Being able to capture cockpit information offers valuable lessons in preventing future accidents and improving safety for passengers.
“Worldwide, every crash investigation agency relies upon the evidence they retrieve from Dr Warren’s black box to find solutions to aviation mysteries such as tragic loss of Air France 477.
“The success of the black box in aviation has also seen the system adopted by the rail and maritime industries.
“I am delighted that such a prominent body, representing more than 190 nations, has seen fit to recognise Dr Warren through this award. It certainly reflects how important the black box has been to aviation safety, and most importantly, to saving people’s lives.”
The Award was named in honour of the first President of the International Civil Aviation Organization, Edward Warner, and is presented at each Assembly on behalf of all member states.
The assembly is held every three years and sets the organisation’s worldwide policy over the next triennium. The 39th Assembly is currently taking place at ICAO’s headquarters in Montreal, Canada, and will continue until 7 October 2016.
Edited by Peter Needham