John Guimond, an airport manager in Maine, and Ron Cote have responded to a fatal aircraft accident by working to develop a fixed-base audio recorder for the purpose of capturing radio transmissions at small airports. Inspiration for the unit that they call the General Audio Recording Device (GARD) came from the November 16, 2012, collision of a landing Cessna 172 and an airport service vehicle at Knox County Regional Airport, Maine. In that incident, all three aboard the aircraft were killed. Both vehicles carried radios but in the aftermath of the crash, which was relatively local to Guimond’s airport (Augusta State), there were no audio records to review. Guimond and Cote’s solution is designed to capture those transmissions at any given airport without recording lengthy silent gaps. The pair has set a (perhaps surprising) price for their device and may have already earned support from Maine’s DOT and the FAA. Safety isn’t the only angle they’re playing and several airports are already testing units.
The two men say they can sell the units for between $2,000 and $3,200, depending on how each unit is equipped. And a spokesman for Maine’s Department of Transportation told local news that the agency would pick up half the cost of installation at any of the 42 public airports in the state. Cote and Guimond have successfully installed the product at five airports there. They plan to next branch out to New Hampshire and Massachusetts and say that the FAA has also expressed interest in the device. Aside from allowing for review of transmissions relevant to an accident near or on a small airport, Cote and Guimond believe their recorder could also prove useful for training. Guimond says he’s already used the device for that purpose at Augusta State — specifically, to review an airport worker’s transmissions and help him learn how to more precisely convey his position on the airport. The two say they are looking into patents and are pursuing grant money to fund future development.