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Black Box/cvr - Flotation Device  
User currently offlineAirbus1 From United Arab Emirates, joined Feb 2001, 88 posts, RR: 0
Posted (14 years 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 2922 times:

This may not be a new question - apologies.

I was thinking about the difficulty in recovering the Black Box and CVR from CI 611.

Has there ever been an attempt to create a flotation device for the "black boxes", something that could inflate immediately on impact with water ? Underwater recovery is hazardous at the best of times. Would a flotation device work? What would be the pros and cons?

Again - apologies if this question has been dealt with before.


10 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineAirplay From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (14 years 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 2914 times:

My first reaction to this question is that it may not be desireable to have the flight recorders able to float away from the crash site. They would be much harder to find in most cases I would say.

I've personally never seen anything like that.

User currently offlineAirbus1 From United Arab Emirates, joined Feb 2001, 88 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (14 years 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 2910 times:


But both recorders do transmit a location signal - and the likelihood is that if they do drift they would drift with other wreckage.

My thinking is that it must be easier to recover from the surface than from the ocean bed.


User currently offlineLZ-TLT From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 431 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (14 years 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 2903 times:


a/c didn't ever crash at sea, remember that. And about recovering, you can remember even the black boxes/fdr from SAA295 AI182 being recovered, both in usable condition and from really big ocean depths, so apparently this is not a problem

User currently offlineTop Gun From Canada, joined May 1999, 101 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (14 years 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 2903 times:

CVR's and DFDR's are useally held in place for that reason. If they are able to float, that means that they'd be able to move around. Which goes against the whole idea of bloting them down.

If they were able to move around they'd get samshed to smitherines.

User currently offlineAirbus1 From United Arab Emirates, joined Feb 2001, 88 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (14 years 6 days 20 hours ago) and read 2900 times:

Guess I was thinking a little differently. A device that only floats when it comes into contact with water. Not an issue on land I realise. But it is not beyond current technology for some sort of inflatable device to be triggered by water. Think of it like the equivalent of an airbag in a car !?

As you can tell this subject has been vexing me all morning.

The manufacturers must have a view on this - anyone care to help !



User currently offlineJetdoctor From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2001, 260 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (14 years 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 2897 times:

As a cost and maintenance issue.
A floatable black box would then have to be tested even further, and cost a whole lot more. Due to the successful recovery rate of current black boxes, I would say the expense and development would not be worth the benefits.
Although it is a good idea, airlines are in a business of making money, and will trim options as much as possible.


Break ground, and head into the wind. Don't break wind and head into the ground.
User currently offlineSaintsman From United Kingdom, joined Mar 2002, 2065 posts, RR: 2
Reply 7, posted (14 years 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 2884 times:

For day to day use, a FDR needs to be secure as it is likely it would get damaged if not (in particular during touch down). So if you needed a flotation device you also need some means of of releasing it and the electrical connector. Also they are inside the tail ( the place most likely to survive a crash) so then there would need to be an automatic hatch to allow the float to come out. With a sonar locator beacon (SLB) which operates upon contact with water, the FDR is not that dificult to find so I think that a floatation device is not an economic option.

User currently offlineAirplay From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (14 years 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 2844 times:

A few other issues,

Although you are correct that flight recorders are equipped with a locator device, this device is sonar based. It needs to be immersed in water to operate. If a radio type locator was developed, it would more than likely require much more power to be effective which means more battery power, and more compexity.

Flight Recorders often do not come away from crashes "unscathed". The vast majority involved in serious crashes sustain alot of damage. Of course the recording medium is protected in it's own container and it has to be carefully removed from the mangled case.

If you wanted to develop a floating flight recorder, you'd have to come up with a means to ensure that the recorder would be ejected clear of the wreckage, then protect the entire unit from damage, including the transmitter and floatation device. Remember the average flight recorder weighs over 20 pounds.

User currently offline242 From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 498 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (14 years 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 2831 times:

Another concern would be locating the wreckage of the aircraft. If the CVR and DFDR are allowed to float away, it would make it much more difficult to locate a debris field. A worst case would be the flight recorders lost at sea, coupled with a lenghty Titanic-like search for the aircraft wreckage.

User currently offlineAirbus1 From United Arab Emirates, joined Feb 2001, 88 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (14 years 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 2811 times:

Many thanks for all your replies.

Something that seemed so simple has taken on all sorts of complexities ! I am wiser and chastened.

One for the next generation maybe !


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