In the Sept, 7 issue of GAN, Meg Godlewski’s article on Flight Data Monitoring (FDM) for general aviation (Can a GA “black box” prevent accidents?) does a nice job of covering the subject. I’m the source of the “don’t call it a black box” inset, and I would like to add one more paragraph on the value proposition for the general aviation owner/pilot.
After investing about $5,000 and $140 per month, what are the potential financial paybacks for installing the system and participating in an ongoing FDM program? Besides the vital intangibles for training and safety, I can see two potential dollar benefits: 1) There is the possibility that an engine that is watched over and managed will last longer. Sometime down the line an engine manufacturer tracking the day-to-day operation of your engine will acknowledge that, given proper operating procedures, an increase in overhaul life can be sanctioned. 2) If a pilot is willing to share data with an insurance company, or their proxy instructor who performs her/his biennial flight and instrument proficiency reviews, perhaps a lower risk category or favorable insurance limits can be conferred to that pilot and airplane.
Both engine manufacturers and insurers are conservative “show me” type institutions, so these tangible benefits will emerge after there is proof that monitored engines last longer and monitored pilots are safer. Both these benefits, if added together, have significant economic value with leverage, perhaps greater than the costs of FDM.