February 8th, 2012|
February 8, 2012
First a block of red lights up on the instrument panel, “Caution–Go around!” Then the loud commands become insistent, “Terrain. Pull up! Pull up! Pull up! Pull up! Pull up!”
This is all part of the crash-avoidance technology pioneered by Don Bateman, which has virtually eliminated what used to be the most common type of airplane disaster, reports The Seattle Times.
More than 40 years ago, Bateman invented this warning system that prevents pilots in poor visibility from flying a perfectly functioning airplane into a mountain or some other obstacle.
The technology eliminated the “No. 1 killer in aviation for decades,” said Bill Voss, chief executive of the Flight Safety Foundation. “Don Bateman has probably saved more lives than any single person in the history of aviation.”
Bateman’s genius was to take data from the technology that was already on airplanes and synthesize the information to create a warning system.
In September, President Obama awarded Bateman the National Medal of Technology and Innovation.
In Honeywell’s Redmond avionics labs, Bateman is still working.
“How do you retire from saving lives?” Voss asked rhetorically.
Bateman will be 80-years-old in March. He has no plans to retire, “It’s fun. I’ve been lucky. I really enjoy this industry.”