Pluto707
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Cloud based black boxes

Mon Mar 11, 2019 4:56 pm

A question that stays in my mind for years already: for sure now with the recent ETH crash... why not upload FDR data to a cloud based database via satellite ? They already use this kind of technology: CPDLC - Acars - constructors dump their engine data on regular time base, via satellite to their systems... In the past 5 years, i think approx 10 to 20 blackboxes had to be searched and recovered somewhere in the world, even at the bottom of oceans; these searches each time, cost from hundred thousands to millions of dollars ( for ex MH370). I have some knowledge about satellite communications and in my opinion, a system where each civil acft dumps these kind of data via satellite to databases (techn that engine constructors already use these days) cannot be that expensive. For ex: all data is sent 100% during take-off and landing phase, and in mid-flight the systems dump datafiles each 10 mins. Acft constructors are not waiting for systems like these, i can imagine. But the actual FDR systems did not change in 50 years, the magnetic tapes were replaced by memory chips, OK, but in ages where a civilian can track and trace his iphone all over the world, in seconds, out of billions of iphones, and... the sophisticated airlines industry stays stuck on FDR systems from the WWII period ??
 
747Whale
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Mon Mar 11, 2019 5:45 pm

Flight Data Recorders were not used during the second world war.

ACARS is very limited.

There are large areas in which Satphone doens't work well, let alone data uploading, and remember that the FDR and CVR are closed loop systems to protectintegrity, and hardwired for accuracy and specificity. What can be uploaded can be downloaded and what can be down loaded can be changed. Not so with the FDR. Additionally, the FDR stays with the aircraft to impact, while a system that transmits may stop transmitting at any time, or may have systems interruption from any number of issues occurring on board. That's not the case with the FDR.
 
Pluto707
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Mon Mar 11, 2019 6:44 pm

THX for your reaction, classic FDR could keep their primary function but such systems could work as additional info supply. I agree that this kind of data logging would not cover 100% of our planet, but in many cases it could provide at least some important information that, in past cases, never came to the surface, not even after years and millions costing search-actions...In my opnion there are more pro's then contras. In the MH370 case it still is the only kind of info they ever could recover; the engines-data that was uploaded via satellite, not even ment to be used as a recovery system.
 
747Whale
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Mon Mar 11, 2019 7:36 pm

Mine is not a 'reaction."
 
Dalmd88
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Mon Mar 11, 2019 7:36 pm

Another issue is the sheer volume of data that would have to be uploaded to satellites if you did a real time fdr data grab. We just don't have the satellite capacity to catch and repeat the data to a huge ground based database.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Tue Mar 12, 2019 1:48 am

Pluto707 wrote:
THX for your reaction, classic FDR could keep their primary function but such systems could work as additional info supply. I agree that this kind of data logging would not cover 100% of our planet, but in many cases it could provide at least some important information that, in past cases, never came to the surface, not even after years and millions costing search-actions...In my opnion there are more pro's then contras. In the MH370 case it still is the only kind of info they ever could recover; the engines-data that was uploaded via satellite, not even ment to be used as a recovery system.


Transmission to the ground has been happening already for years. As an example in the case of AF447 the maintenance systems transmitted a host of data to the ground during the accident. Maintenance will often know about minor faults before we land.

With time, I fully expect more and more data to be automatically transmitted, but we are a long way from transmission of the full DFDR data in real time. If nothing else, the number of DFDR parameters keeps increasing.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
stratclub
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Tue Mar 12, 2019 5:15 am

747Whale wrote:
Mine is not a 'reaction."

Great response. In this Jerry Springer Face book age, facts are irrelevant but we still have to blame someone and figure out "who is the father". I'm hoping for the day that once again cold hard facts and rational thinking are more relevant than emotional reactions.
 
Pluto707
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Tue Mar 12, 2019 6:31 am

Thx 747whale, i take it as a clarification then
 
seat64k
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Tue Mar 12, 2019 6:38 am

How much data are we talking about here? This article suggests 64 12-bit words per second:

https://www.skybrary.aero/index.php/Flight_Data_Recorder_(FDR) (not sure how old this is?)

That's trivially small. Even if it's double that, it's 10ns of KB per minute. Handling and transmitting this much information won't be a problem on the aircraft, and is definitely manageable from a storage perspective on earth. More likely satellite capacity would be an issue.

It's also not necessary to upload everything all the time, as it happens. If we have to make compromises to deal with satellite capacity issues, there are all sorts of things we can do to reduce the upload size/frequency an prioritise the information that would be most useful in the event the aircraft isn't found, or retrieving the FDRs might take time (say it crashed in the ocean).
 
747Whale
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Tue Mar 12, 2019 7:29 am

seat64k wrote:

It's also not necessary to upload everything all the time, as it happens.


It absolutely is if it's for a crash investigation and you hope to do better than the FDR. It's critical that the information get preserved exactly, on all channels, that it be complete until the FDR stops recording, that it be accurate, and that it can be trusted. This will include aircraft motion, control inputs, systems, configuration, acceleration, etc. Anything less than what's provided by the FDR is not enough.
 
flipdewaf
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Tue Mar 12, 2019 8:22 am

The issue is less to do with the feasibility of making it work as we have already noted that there are current systems, be it on aircraft or personal items, that can transmit data already but the issue is more around making sure that it never (almost) doesn't stop working. If you have ever had a problem with your phone where it seems to stop loading and you just refresh it and then it carries on and all is fine, if this happens no the DFDR then you are lost. You could counter this with a backup on board DFDR but then you aren't really saving anything.

The only reason this comes up every time there has been a crash is that we seem to live in a world where we want simple instant answers and people don't like events happening slower than their twitter feed. From what I can tell air accident investigation is a slow deliberate process and it works. Simples.

Fred
Image
 
stratclub
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Tue Mar 12, 2019 8:45 am

Even a minimum amount of information would greatly help in finding the aircraft's last location and it's black box. It does not have to be an all or nothing proposition. I'm pretty sure a reliable system could be made that would provide the aircrafts last location and some basic flight parameters and would not require much bandwidth.

In flight testing, we transmit just a crap ton of data with telemetry for just in case something goes wrong.
 
seat64k
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Tue Mar 12, 2019 9:45 am

747Whale wrote:
It absolutely is if it's for a crash investigation and you hope to do better than the FDR.


If that's the problem you're trying to solve, yes. As we already discussed, transferring that much information may be an issue.

If our objective is *finding* the aircraft in the first place, we need two metrics: time & coordinates. And we don't need every last second. If we get a GPS coordinate every 10 minutes, and the signal stops, we have last location in a circle 170nm across, possible crash sites slightly larger. Add direction and it narrows things down further.

747Whale wrote:
It's critical that the information get preserved exactly, on all channels, that it be complete until the FDR stops recording, that it be accurate, and that it can be trusted. This will include aircraft motion, control inputs, systems, configuration, acceleration, etc. Anything less than what's provided by the FDR is not enough.


Why? Every new aircraft more information than the previous generation, yet we were able to workout what happened in previous generation aircraft crashes. From what I've been able to find, the A350 records around 2500 different metrics. Do we really need every last one of those?

I assume bandwidth is going to be an issue. So my vision for a system like this is a tool that makes decisions about the most important information given the circumstance. It would have some knowledge of the aircraft's expected behaviour - maybe even the flight plan - and decide what metrics to transmit as a priority.

For example, If the aircraft is travelling at the expected flight level, speed and direction, there's no reason to send those metrics once a second. The device can cache that information locally, in case it becomes relevant later. Say it's 18:02 and we've been flying steady for the last hour, and we're sending FL, speed and direction every 10 minutes. Last transmission was 18:00. At 18:02 we suddenly losing altitude rapidly. Now, we know something changed between 18:00 and 18:02, and we have those metrics down to the last second cached locally, so we start transmitting those while transmitting any further information at 1 second intervals. Back on the ground we now know instantly that something is up, and we can possibly have a rough idea of what, but more importantly, we know in which part of the Southern Indian ocean to go look for that 777 and retrieve the FDRs for a more complete picture.

This, to me, seems a good compromise between what we have and what we ultimately want, given the cost and bandwidth of satellite communication.
 
seat64k
Posts: 404
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Tue Mar 12, 2019 9:46 am

flipdewaf wrote:
The issue is less to do with the feasibility of making it work as we have already noted that there are current systems, be it on aircraft or personal items, that can transmit data already but the issue is more around making sure that it never (almost) doesn't stop working. If you have ever had a problem with your phone where it seems to stop loading and you just refresh it and then it carries on and all is fine, if this happens no the DFDR then you are lost. You could counter this with a backup on board DFDR but then you aren't really saving anything.


Why does this have to have anything to do with the existing DFDR? The sensor output is already duplicated so that it can be recorded to two devices. All we're talking about is adding a third copy of the data to a device that, instead of recording, transmits the data.
 
Pluto707
Topic Author
Posts: 37
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Tue Mar 12, 2019 11:45 am

seat64k wrote:
flipdewaf wrote:
The issue is less to do with the feasibility of making it work as we have already noted that there are current systems, be it on aircraft or personal items, that can transmit data already but the issue is more around making sure that it never (almost) doesn't stop working. If you have ever had a problem with your phone where it seems to stop loading and you just refresh it and then it carries on and all is fine, if this happens no the DFDR then you are lost. You could counter this with a backup on board DFDR but then you aren't really saving anything.


Why does this have to have anything to do with the existing DFDR? The sensor output is already duplicated so that it can be recorded to two devices. All we're talking about is adding a third copy of the data to a device that, instead of recording, transmits the data.
seat64k, this is exactly what i ment at the top of this post
 
jetblueguy22
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Tue Mar 12, 2019 3:48 pm

Everyone is forgetting the labor aspect of this whole thing. No union in their right mind would allow a CVR to constantly be beamed back to the company for anyone to listen. I understand the safety aspect of it, but unions would fight that hard. It’s not like the CVR only records ATC calls. It can also include the discussion about the Yankees game last night and the FA the FO hooked up with the night before.
Look at sweatpants guy. This is a 90 million dollar aircraft, not a Tallahassee strip club
 
seat64k
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Tue Mar 12, 2019 4:11 pm

Pluto707 wrote:
seat64k, this is exactly what i ment at the top of this post


Apologies, I misread your post. I thought you implied the FDR would need to do the transmitting.

To your point, this issue happens with consumer hardware, because, well, they're shitty consumer hardware. The most expensive mobile phones are still based on incredibly cheap modems. They just have huge mark-ups applied. Even slightly more robust hardware can handle flaky connections. At one of my previous jobs we had routers using EDGE/HSDPA/3G connections running for years. Connections drop occasionally, but the hardware just keep trying to reconnect until it works. No need to turn it off and on again.

jetblueguy22 wrote:
Everyone is forgetting the labor aspect of this whole thing. No union in their right mind would allow a CVR to constantly be beamed back to the company for anyone to listen. I understand the safety aspect of it, but unions would fight that hard. It’s not like the CVR only records ATC calls. It can also include the discussion about the Yankees game last night and the FA the FO hooked up with the night before.


We're talking about the Flight Data Recorder, not the Cockpit Voice Recorder. That said, the "for anyone to listen" part isn't necessarily implied. For one, data like this would be encrypted. If not for union reasons, then at the very least for proprietary reasons. On the recipient end there would be access limitations like there would be for any other privileged data, so I don't see how unions would have a case.
 
stratclub
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Tue Mar 12, 2019 4:16 pm

jetblueguy22 wrote:
Everyone is forgetting the labor aspect of this whole thing. No union in their right mind would allow a CVR to constantly be beamed back to the company for anyone to listen. I understand the safety aspect of it, but unions would fight that hard. It’s not like the CVR only records ATC calls. It can also include the discussion about the Yankees game last night and the FA the FO hooked up with the night before.


The system could be designed so that every 15 or 30 minutes data is written over at the receiving end and not accessible to anyone unless there is an incident. In a crash, if the CVR is found, at least the last 30 minutes is preserved for all to hear if released to the public. Nope, not a privacy issue. Why is there an expectation of privacy when you are on the clock flying for the company anyway?
 
Pluto707
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Tue Mar 12, 2019 7:32 pm

Of course its about FDR, not CVR and the classic FDR could be kept as primary source, the transmitted satellite data could provide quicker and more acurate info, or the ONLY info if FDR remains lost. I am convinced that the actual technology is more then ready to add systems like this, but as told before; the aviation industry is not waiting for improvements capable of detecting and providing more information if technical issues would be the case
 
747Whale
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Tue Mar 12, 2019 9:03 pm

stratclub wrote:
jetblueguy22 wrote:
Everyone is forgetting the labor aspect of this whole thing. No union in their right mind would allow a CVR to constantly be beamed back to the company for anyone to listen. I understand the safety aspect of it, but unions would fight that hard. It’s not like the CVR only records ATC calls. It can also include the discussion about the Yankees game last night and the FA the FO hooked up with the night before.


The system could be designed so that every 15 or 30 minutes data is written over at the receiving end and not accessible to anyone unless there is an incident. In a crash, if the CVR is found, at least the last 30 minutes is preserved for all to hear if released to the public. Nope, not a privacy issue. Why is there an expectation of privacy when you are on the clock flying for the company anyway?


It's not about an expectation of privacy.

There has already been considerable pushback on the issue of placing cameras in cockpits, to which I agree.

Sending that information back in real time would be a hard line in the sand for almost any flight crew, and absolutely any union, to say nothing of legal representation. Absolutely. not.
 
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Starlionblue
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Tue Mar 12, 2019 11:29 pm

stratclub wrote:
jetblueguy22 wrote:
Everyone is forgetting the labor aspect of this whole thing. No union in their right mind would allow a CVR to constantly be beamed back to the company for anyone to listen. I understand the safety aspect of it, but unions would fight that hard. It’s not like the CVR only records ATC calls. It can also include the discussion about the Yankees game last night and the FA the FO hooked up with the night before.


The system could be designed so that every 15 or 30 minutes data is written over at the receiving end and not accessible to anyone unless there is an incident. In a crash, if the CVR is found, at least the last 30 minutes is preserved for all to hear if released to the public. Nope, not a privacy issue. Why is there an expectation of privacy when you are on the clock flying for the company anyway?


CVR recordings are not typically released to the public, notwithstanding leaked recordings which have cropped up every now and then. While transcripts are made, and published in whole or in part, the voice recordings themselves are kept private because of their sensitive nature.

Making all voice recordings available even just to the company opens up a massive can of worms with regards to liability and trust. If they are available, you can bet someone will find a way to use it for leverage against individual or groups of employees.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
stratclub
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Wed Mar 13, 2019 5:14 am

That is why you would follow the same protocols for cloud based and the physical black box with provisions that the cloud based recordings are not available to anyone unless there is an incident investigation.

I was not sure how much public access there is to the CVR data but if the cloud based data was encrypted and had restricted access at the receiving end, then I could not imagine any issue.
 
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N328KF
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Fri Mar 15, 2019 12:56 am

The challenges here are bandwidth, and deciding what data is important. You might have multiple methods to pull data, and restrict only the most crucial for times when you have high latency and/or low bandwidth. (Think network Quality of Service.)

The other is that solving this problem is now less about technology and more about cost.

Source: I work for a company which provides exactly this functionality, but for locomotives and ships.
“In the age of information, ignorance is a choice.”
-Donny Miller
 
Pluto707
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Fri Mar 15, 2019 6:52 am

they could do it: www.aireon.com
 
mandala499
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Re: Cloud based black boxes

Sun Mar 17, 2019 3:58 pm

The idea has been dreamed up many times... but there are problems...
1. Do you want to send some of the FDR data, or all the FDR data? Snapshots? Or continuous stream? The latter is quite hefty.
2. Bandwidth costs... and required investments to support the bandwidth (eg: satcom installation)... Inmarsat Swiftbroadband is about $4 per megabyte at 432kbps... Inmarsat GX pricing model I don't know.. but the bandwidth is OK.
3. When the aircraft changes orientation too quickly, the antenna may not be able to cope to keep the beam steering towards the correct satellite. Then there's the question about being inverted, etc, and once you lose the link due to abrupt maneuvres, once you're upright again, reestablishing the link takes a few seconds... (so if you're suffering from loss of control, the effectivity becomes questionable).
4. For a case like MH370, one can always switch the transponders and satcom off...
And let's not even talk about the atrocious low bandwidth of Inmarsat Swift/Aero H/H+ (I3 generation) and the even crazier than SBB (I4) costs on the airplane of the same satcom vintage of MH370..

The deployable on a crash backup FDR is a better idea in my opinion... :)

As to finding the aircraft, satellite based ADS-B is currently the best method available and is beginning to be deployed this year... and that can have position updates every 1/2 to 10 seconds... Aireon is deploying this...
This is wayyyy less than "streaming blackboxes to the cloud", but it's the most cost effective proposition so far.
When losing situational awareness, pray Cumulus Granitus isn't nearby !

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