NASA is crashing planes on purpose and it's all for a good cause.
The point of their project is to improve the onboard emergency locator transmitter (ELT) that is designed to send out a signal in the event of the aircraft crashing.
At the heart of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 mystery is its ELT. The fact that it didn't send out a distress signal offered hope that the aircraft's 239 passengers were safe.
By crashing the Cessna 172 into the ground, NASA is hoping to gain more data and insight into how the ELT would work after a severe impact.
In a second series of tests conducted at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, a research team hoisted the plane using cables and then dropped it onto soil.
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The first test involved dropping the aircrafts from a lower height onto concrete.
“This was clearly more severe than the first test," said Chad Stimson, NASA Langley Emergency Locator Transmitter Survivability and Reliability (ELTSAR) project manager.
"No one would have walked away from this. They might be alive, but they’d need help right away. In that sense, it’s the perfect search and rescue case.”
What NASA is hoping these experiments will achieve is a way to "install the systems so they’re more likely to work after a crash."
ELT systems have two parts: a beacon that is attached to the aircraft's fuselage and an antenna on the exterior.
Once the beacon detects signs of a crash, the antenna picks up these signals and transmits it to ground staff.