Black box flight recorder

Maynard wonders…

The plane is already in the clouds, so you’d expect modern aircraft to stream its data into the cloud instead of recording it in a hard-to-recover black box. The technology exists, but it’s slow to come due to cost.

Via NBC News.

In their quest to uncover what caused an EgyptAir jetliner’s fatal plunge into the Mediterranean Sea this month, searchers are conducting a costly, time-consuming hunt for the jet’s black box data recorders.

But in an age where digital data can be easily transmitted and stored remotely, the use of black boxes to record critical flight data increasingly strikes many experts as antiquated. In fact, the technology already exists to stream the aircraft’s information to a ground computer or virtual “cloud” — it just hasn’t been widely adopted.

Why are airlines balking? The biggest barrier, industry observers say, is cost.

FLYHT Aerospace Solutions in Canada provides an on-demand black box streaming service at about $100,000 per plane, including hardware and installation. The company says it has over 50 customers and is already installed in about 400 planes. Canada’s First Air is the only airline to say publicly it is using the FLYHT system.

The system doesn’t continuously send data to ground-based computers. Instead, it activates in the event of an abnormal occurrence, then quickly sends a torrent of data to the airline for analysis and to apply corrective action.

“In the event something goes wrong, we can provide quicker insight into what happened,” said Graham Ingham, a former Skyservice Airlines manager who now works for FLYHT. “We can start piecing the puzzle together quicker, so (the airline) can lay to rest some of the conspiracies that are out there.”


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3 Comments | Leave a comment
  1. Alain41 says:

    There’s an advantage to airline management and public relations staff to have time to prepare message with a black box. Immediate availability of data will cause them problems.

  2. Maynard says:

    My other idea was to construct the aircraft itself so it’s just one big flying black box. That makes sense, doesn’t it? So instead of rescuing just the data recorder, they’ll be able to recover all the passengers and crew, not to mention the luggage. I wonder why no one has ever thought of doing this.

  3. Los2000 says:

    Wireless communication is no where near stable enough to rely on for black box recording; especially when you’re flying over the ocean. It would be more than enough acceptable as a back-up method of recording, but definitely not as the primary method. In order to meet the FAA standards, the failure rate would have to be better than 100000 hours of operation without a failure. That means 11 years without a single failure. In the last 11 years as a land-lubber, I can’t even begin to count the number of times my internet has gone down. Imagine how worse it would be flying over the ocean, relying on wireless. No, definitely not a good idea.

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