scalebuilder
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CVR And FDR In Aircraft - Could It Be Hosted?

Sat Oct 14, 2006 11:07 am

Dear forum:

With some air accidents incinerating the wreckage at very high temeratures as a result due to a hot fire, both the cockpit voice recorder (CVR) and the flight data recorder (FDR) will take a toll, and the recoverability of information may simply not be there in the end. Granted, both of these can take some real punishment. No argument.

But a recent example of such an incident occured in Western Norway just this week. A BAe 146-200 crashed belonging to Atlantic Airways. The cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder were badly damaged in the hot fire that followed the crash, and may never reveal what was really communicated among the pilots or what happened to the aircraft. It is still being analyzed, but in advanced laboratories.

In this day and age with really advanced technology and satillite communication, would it be an option to simply have the "Black Boxes" of a modern aircraft "hosted" on the ground on a dedicated server or in a fcaility somewhere? I do not see how this could be too much of a challenge for the right and bright mind out there with the right technology available. I am only considering new aircraft of tomorrow.

Gone should be the days searching for that box that may never be found on the ocean floor, or not be in shape to provide the answer or the reason for an accident.

Thoughts?

Scalebuilder
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spacecadet
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RE: CVR And FDR In Aircraft - Could It Be Hosted?

Sat Oct 14, 2006 11:36 am

I can't recall a recent accident in which the FDR or CVR were either a) never found, or b) so badly damaged that the data cannot be recovered. Somebody can correct me if I'm wrong, but just the fact that the FDR in the case you mentioned is in an advanced lab doesn't mean the data may "never be recovered". There's a reason why it's there, after all - it's not because that lab happens to be the host of the world's most efficient circular file.

The main problem with "hosting" these boxes on the ground is pretty obvious: reliability. CVR's and FDR's have to be 100% reliable, no exceptions. There can't be a case where, for example, the host is out of range for a few minutes, or the signal gets lost. Planes fly all over the place, so you'd need a bunch of satellite repeaters in strategic locations, and even then, those of us who have used Boeing's Connexion service in flight can tell you how spotty the service level would be.

There are also questions of things like security; signals like this can always be hacked, or jammed. In the case of a terrorist attack, you don't want someone to be able to jam the FDR/CVR signals.

Bottom line is it would be far less reliable to have a hosted CVR/FDR on the ground than a recorder in the plane. It's a lot better to have data that needs an advanced lab to read it because it's damaged than to have no data at all.
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OPNLguy
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RE: CVR And FDR In Aircraft - Could It Be Hosted?

Sat Oct 14, 2006 11:55 am

The cost of the telemetry infrastructure would be prohibitive, not to mention the bandwidth issues of thousands of aircraft flying around recording 200-300 DFDR parameters and the CVR...
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scalebuilder
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RE: CVR And FDR In Aircraft - Could It Be Hosted?

Sat Oct 14, 2006 12:10 pm

Quoting Spacecadet (Reply 1):
I can't recall a recent accident in which the FDR or CVR were either a) never found, or b) so badly damaged that the data cannot be recovered. Somebody can correct me if I'm wrong, but just the fact that the FDR in the case you mentioned is in an advanced lab doesn't mean the data may "never be recovered"

I am not arguing at all that these units were not found. They normally are. When Air India crashed due to a bomb next to the British coast several years ago, divers had to go searching in a pretty wide area to find the "black boxes". They found them, and they were in good shape. The risk that these divers assumed was incredible.

When fire hits, and burns consistently over time, the boxes will indeed take a toll. I know that these are strategically placed in the least vulnerable sections of the aircraft, but nevertheless, the question needs to be asked: can the modern world do better than this today? This last week we had a serious accident in Norway, luckily with few deaths, but with a severly burned wreckage. I was actually surprised to learn how badly damaged the black boxes were given that there were so many surviors. It is almost counter-intuitive.

Given the advanced aircraft that rule our skies today, you would think that technological advances would follow suit when it comes to intelligence so necessary when something goes wrong. Is it possible to invent a "new black box" from the way we know it? The investigation swear by these "black boxes", and this may never change.

I am simply questioning: How can this be done better without putting additional individuals at risk let alone those who perished in the accident itself in the effort of finding them.

I have lots of respect for your arguments about keeping the status quo. I am merely asking if something good can be made better.
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jasond
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RE: CVR And FDR In Aircraft - Could It Be Hosted?

Sat Oct 14, 2006 12:16 pm

On the surface its a nice idea but the complexities (and costs) involved in implementing it negate a lot of the reasons why its there in the first place. Saying that I did read a story where (in Australia and involving Qantas I think) an aircraft was controlled in the air somewhat by ATC (sorry details are sketchy, I simply can't recall all the details). Naturally if this technology matures then so does the ability to monitor and record all manner of information about the flight.
 
EMBQA
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RE: CVR And FDR In Aircraft - Could It Be Hosted?

Sat Oct 14, 2006 12:46 pm

Quoting Scalebuilder (Thread starter):
A BAe 146-200 crashed belonging to Atlantic Airways. The cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder were badly damaged in the hot fire

Where did you hear that...?? FDR/CVR are in armor treated boxes that can withstand tempratures of around 1000 degs for several hours. I doubt highly that the FDR/CVR was exposed to anything like that. In most cases when you hear reports of 'unusable data' that will come from poorly maintained equipment. Even the flight recorders from United 93 on Sept 11th were recovered from 25ft under ground, found to be fully intact and usable.

[Edited 2006-10-14 05:57:46]
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scalebuilder
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RE: CVR And FDR In Aircraft - Could It Be Hosted?

Sat Oct 14, 2006 9:25 pm

Quoting EMBQA (Reply 5):
Where did you hear that...?? FDR/CVR are in armor treated boxes that can withstand tempratures of around 1000 degs for several hours. I doubt highly that the FDR/CVR was exposed to anything like that. In most cases when you hear reports of 'unusable data' that will come from poorly maintained equipment. Even the flight recorders from United 93 on Sept 11th were recovered from 25ft under ground, found to be fully intact and usable.

[Edited 2006-10-14 05:57:46]

Even though both units are located in the tail in this particular instance, it is quoted in the Norwegian media that particularily the CVR sustained significant heat damage before it was found and removed. It has been sent to a lab here in the US with the hope that the data content still may be recovered.

More on the topic here (Norwegian only - sorry):

http://www.dagbladet.no/nyheter/2006/10/13/479683.html

In broad terms the article concludes that the combination of the hot fire and the prolonged time of exposure to the fire have made the data recovery effort from the CVR/FDR very difficult.
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