NASA crashed another Cessna to improve emergency locators

Engineers at NASA's Langley Research Center have completed the second phase of a project that aims to improve the reliability of Emergency Location Transmitters (ELTs). These devices are meant to send your coordinates to emergency responders after a plane crash but are often so damaged by the impact that they don't ever turn on. That's why NASA is working with its industry partners to design an ELT system capable of taking a punch without getting knocked out.

Drop tests, like the one above, provide NASA with invaluable impact data. The first test, held on July 1, examined the forces involved with crash landing on tarmac. This second test dropped a Cessna 172 from a height of 100 feet onto dirt, which unlike tarmac, doesn't really allow the plane to skid, meaning that the airframe and occupants take a larger brunt of the impact. "With this one, we're trying to push the envelope," Chad Stimson, NASA Langley Emergency Locator Transmitter Survivability and Reliability (ELTSAR) project manager, said of Wednesday's test in a statement. "It's severe, but survivable." And that's exactly the kind of accident that demands more robust ELTs.