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Airplane Black Boxes

07/09/2009 5:43 PM

In light of all the recent coverage of airplane (aeroplane for those on the other side of the pond) crashes in the seas and oceans. I've come to notice the difficulty in obtaining the black box when an airplane crashes in deep waters. what is it that can be done to improve the design (apart from the acoustic locators/transmitters) so that retreival can be more successful? is it time think about revamping the black box?

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#1

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/09/2009 5:59 PM

"is it time think about revamping the black box?" No, but how do I quote you in my reply without cutting and pasting? :)

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#2

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/09/2009 6:11 PM

I have no idea Nah. last time I tried using UBB code on this site it didn't work. The syntax is different on this site (or it's changed over time).

you still haven't supported your reasoning on why a revamp isn't needed.

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#13
In reply to #2

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/09/2009 8:45 PM

It may be needed, but the if the FAA fits this description "Regulatory capture is a term used to refer to situations in which a government regulatory agency created to act in the public interest instead acts in favor of the commercial or special interests that dominate in the industry or sector it is charged with regulating. Regulatory capture is a form of government failure, as it can act as an encouragement for large firms to produce negative externalities." it won't happen soon. Also, the public's perception of risk, the rate of plane crashes, etc. probably don't speak in favor of this.

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#3

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/09/2009 6:27 PM

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Airplanes are still flying with analog radios and old radar technology.

I would guess that each black box costs around $25-50K USA. Someone may have a better idea of actual cost. Multiply this by the number of aircraft to be retrofitted, and add the labor costs to R&R (remove and replace) all the units and guess what.

My guess is that GPS technology is still 10-15 years away from implementation in aircraft, and how much longer would it take to design/build/install a new black box.

It won't happen soon.

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#81
In reply to #3

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/14/2009 9:23 AM

LynLynch,

I have just noticed your post re: GPS in aircraft.

I had asumed that GPS navigation systems were part of standard aircraft kit - after all Loran and Decca systems died away many years ago -unless I have misunderstood!

I can remember when my company built the first GPS receiver in the UK - it took up a large room -nowadays a GPS receiver can be fitted inside a mobile radio!

If I assume that I am right then the basic data is available to be sent out on a beacon or some such gizmo at frequent and regular intervals.

OK, the regulatory authorities will have to allocate a frequency band; aircraft designers will have to find space for the kit,and probably another antennae or pair of antennae, electronic engineers will have to design the sender an so on, but all perfectly doable I would have thought. If this concept took hold then Black Box type data could be added, in bursts, serially, whatever. Someone needs to take a systems approach to this and possibly add cockpit recording although that sounds like a a major bandwidth requirement (reading the new cockipt scenario in this thread mfor which, thank you).

Note: I have not addressed the ground and or space segment which would have to be added to existing (new) satellite transponders or other reliable means of making the ground connection.

It has to work for all aircaft albeit hat there could be simpler versions for small and older aircraft.

Sleepy

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#83
In reply to #81

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/14/2009 10:54 AM

Hi Sleepy,

I worked at Motorola during the infancy of GPS. We struggled with designing an antenna small enough to be portable and still effective.

Everyone agrees that GPS will help locate aircraft to within feet, that it will reduce close calls in the air and on the ground. Lots of private pilots use them, I hear, and commercial pilots probably do, too. GPS is not approved for navigation, however good it may be.

The wheel of regulatory progress grinds on, ever slowly.

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#84
In reply to #83

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/14/2009 11:59 AM

Hi, lynlynch,

Understand where you are coming from, but I have just read the threads pointed out by chisg288 one of which suggested (edignan) that all commercial aircraft are flying by GPS or have GPS these days. More than one contributor, probably means that we are out of date?? I do not know the facts; I am aware that the aviation industry is slow to adopt new ideas (GPS=new!), but the thread was fairly specific that all commercial airlines were dependent upon GPS these days. Can only be good until someone breaks the GPS!

I accept that GPS may not yet be approved for navigation, that cannot be far away unless everyone is still working on the old assumption that US President could pull the GPS codes rendering it's accuracy too poor for normal navigation. I, personally think that we are way beyond that threat.

On your antenna issue it is amazing that so much is done with a short piece of wire these days! Whether it be radio or GPS! I can only assume that modern designs take poorer antenna efficiency into account and push out higher transmit powers and achieve lower noise floors at the receiver.

Sleepy

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#86
In reply to #84

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/14/2009 2:38 PM

"probably means that we are out of date??"

Guilty! As cahrged. I've not kept up as I should if I'm going to have opinions about these things. Mouth engaged, brain not!

Lyn

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#87
In reply to #81

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/14/2009 3:03 PM

Sleepy,

"If I assume that I am right then the basic data is available to be sent out on a beacon or some such gizmo at frequent and regular intervals."

That interval sending is done now.

GPS is a one-way street. Receive only.

GPS and Air Data computers are part of the Inertial Ref Navigation System on most modern planes.

Most Airbus planes I have been on have a nice map display (when the movie is not playing) that shows where you are.

The Inertial Ref Navigation System is as good as GPS for knowing where the plane is.

Every movement of the plane is sensed and recorded on the Orange Flight Data Black Boxes. They are rarely unrecoverable.

Old aircraft need to stay on the ground and be used for chicken houses or homes for homeless people.

Jon

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#4

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/09/2009 6:28 PM

"crashes" my cut and past woks. But then again I am using Fire Fox

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#5

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/09/2009 6:33 PM

I seems to me that when ever a box is trying to be located.,i.e. plane crash, there always talking about finding it in time. the importance of that thing should dictate an overhaul in the power design at least. then maybe give it an IP address so everybody can look for it.

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#6
In reply to #5

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/09/2009 7:12 PM

"give it an IP address so everybody can look for it."

Please explain how this would work.

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#17
In reply to #6

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/09/2009 11:40 PM

simplest form would be to upload all data,(GPS, Critical Flight Abnormalities..,Crash!) immedietly, via satellite. you wouldn't have to wait for impact ,those xyz accelerometer thingy's Intel is playing with can tell when the crash is emminent. you'd think with all the tech out there we could have someone on site immediatly. with all these kids genius's, we should hold a public scholorship contest and get one of them to build us one with parts from radio shack..,we don't need no stinking private enterprise! P.S. oh yea, as for the IP, then e-mail out everybody OUT THERE!

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#27
In reply to #17

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/10/2009 11:32 PM

Hi Wannabwise

I think your idea is good one but its implementation perhaps may differ. If we have data-collecting satellites doing just this job of capturing data from all flights in real time and putting it on some hard storage media then something on the the airplane/aeroplane must transmit in real time and it should also reach the satellite to be stored.

Now that Black Box data recorder can record data up to the time its power cords are snapped or power to the instrument is disabled irrespective of the wireless network working on the airplane/aeroplane.

Perhaps on crash like emergencies some kind of detectable colored chemical may be released in air and water to locate where problem started and where ended. This is like an SOS signal that can be seen from far distance. In such case even when wireless communication snaps down, people on earth will know what is nest to expect. It can also help in locating the debris and survivors if any.

It may also be wise to have few seats with eject capability with parachute. Some one may be alive to tell the real story if not all can be saved. Such person/s can also carry with them a radio transmitters to call the rescue team to the sop by telling them GPS location. Some trained person can be selected for this task perhaps among the air hostages.

I believe that the companies who manufacture or fly airplanes do not want any one to survive and is one reason why near 100% assured safety is not implemented even for one person. We have this in fighter air crafts then why not in civilian air crafts.

I think this idea is implementable.

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#30
In reply to #27

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/11/2009 1:06 AM

I think you have some good ideas. if they do not want survivors why do they not eject the black box with a parachute and a floating device.

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#37
In reply to #30

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/11/2009 7:05 AM

Black Box is a multiple channel information tape recorder and a continuous one and only when it stops under air crash, the last 30 minutes recording can be looked at to look for clues or reasons for the air crash. It is not to be detached from aircraft by any means and becomes a part of the debris under air-crash. It is built to survive under fire for limited period and its data format is deliberately in multiples such that all is not damaged even if tapes are badly damaged. Information is in the form of multiple short information records and is not a single record on entire tape. Format for data is well known.

Black box recorder is not a safety device in any way.

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#61
In reply to #30

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/12/2009 11:21 PM

The reason they think for not providing parachute and floating device is that once the black box floats it may drift from the accident site.

If it moves away from the accident site, the clue (and possibility of finding the debris of the ill fated plane) about accident site will be lost.

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#60
In reply to #27

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/12/2009 11:17 PM

GA Shyam

Innovative idea!

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#80
In reply to #27

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/14/2009 7:36 AM

"It may also be wise to have few seats with eject capability with parachute. Some one may be alive to tell the real story if not all can be saved. Such person/s can also carry with them a radio transmitters to call the rescue team to the sop by telling them GPS location. Some trained person can be selected for this task perhaps among the air hostages.

I believe that the companies who manufacture or fly airplanes do not want any one to survive and is one reason why near 100% assured safety is not implemented even for one person. We have this in fighter air crafts then why not in civilian air crafts."

Let me see if I have this right. You want an explosive canopy in a commercial airliner which opens a 10 m2 hole during a 1000 kph dive? And you want to subject Aunt Susie or Uncle Fred to up to 20g? And they're gonna miss the tail how?

Of course airlines want passengers to survive. Consider the recent ditching in the Hudson River.

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#89
In reply to #80

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/16/2009 11:17 PM

Dear TVP45

Ejecting a person need not be the same way as it is in fighter aircrafts. It can be simply a planned dropping out a trained person with Parachute and other gadgets to survive the drop/fall. This is only one thing that can be done but this does not remove other requirements and is not something that will save all people. There may be many incidences when there is no time even to do all that. Aircraft may split in parts in less than response time. What I am saying that in place of so many computers, if parachutes are also there then there may be a chance to survive in some cases and how it is to be implemented is to be worked out in the design.

Assuming that there is an aircraft with such facility and another without any such facility then which aircraft are you likely to board? If you have even once done that part of the training then it is very likely that you may prefer it. For some people it may never matter, but for some it is a life saving chance in emergency. I did hear many military aircraft crashing and all being dead out there and such chances do exist.

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#90
In reply to #89

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/17/2009 7:38 AM

Here are the compelling reasons not to try parachutes.

About 98% of all airline crashes occur during landing or takeoff. There is insufficient altitude to deploy parachutes.

Even trained, physically fit paratroopers require a minute or so of 150 mph, stable flight to safely exit a plane. Exiting a 500 mph, tumbling, diving plane is a challenge. And, after all that, getting the chute open without tangling the lines is another challenge. There's a good reason the unofficial song of the US Airborne forces ends with

There was blood upon the risers, there were brains upon the chute, Intestines were a'dangling from his Paratrooper suit, He was a mess; they picked him up, and poured him from his boots, And he ain't gonna jump no more Gory, gory, what a helluva way to die, Gory, gory, what a helluva way to die, Gory, gory, what a helluva way to die, He ain't gonna jump no more!

So, given a choice between airlines, I'd always choose the one that spent its money on maintenance and training rather than on gimmicks like parachutes.

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#91
In reply to #90

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/17/2009 9:49 AM

TVP45

I can supply many more verses to the Paratroopers song!

Thanks for the reminder!!

Sleepy

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#92
In reply to #89

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/17/2009 10:11 AM

Shyam,

It seems that you've never jumped from an airplane. Neither have I, but friends who have tell me that the idea of trying to leave a commercial aircraft in distress is insane. The terminal velocity of a skydiver typically is about 125 mph, so leaving a cruising aircraft at 400+mph will not be pleasant for the fool leaving. Also changing the aerodynamics of a troubled aircraft by opening a door for the fool trying to leave will put the rest of the aircraft passengers in greater risk. If the aircraft can be well controlled to permit an orderly distribution of parachutes to passengers who wish to leave, then a soft safer landing can and should be attempted instead!

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#93
In reply to #92

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/17/2009 10:37 AM

I agree at 1000km/h limbs will come out easily. This is normal flight. I suppose the flight in distress will not be at such high speed. Also falling from 40000 ft not going to be easy. In any way, sitting inside also not going to be any better. I will prefer to jump out and try my luck if it is any better than that of others sitting in and waiting. How about you?

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#94
In reply to #93

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/17/2009 10:59 AM

How selfish of you. If you were sitting next to me on a troubled plane, you might not survive getting to the door. Your life is certainly of less value than those on the plane trying to help.

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#96
In reply to #89

Re: Airplane black boxes

12/04/2010 5:37 PM

why not design a big parachute the could carry the entire plane so that everything will be saved?

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#97
In reply to #96

Re: Airplane black boxes

12/04/2010 9:04 PM

Try out.

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#98
In reply to #96

Re: Airplane black boxes

12/04/2010 11:15 PM

The aircraft was flying just below the speed of sound as commercial aircraft must do. It flew into a vortex that caused it to hit violent winds that instantly made the aircraft hit the sound barrier combined with the stresses of the violent turbulence it was torn apart. What part of the plane would have been saved by the big chute in this case? How many parachutes were needed for each piece in this case?

A Piper Cub with a parachute to deploy if it lost power and there is no smooth place to land would be cool. I have seen a picture of such a system.

I have been in planes that made powered vertical landings due to strong headwinds. Took off the same way.

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#7

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/09/2009 7:13 PM

I've often thought, "Why aren't they installed on the top of the fuselage near the base of the Tail with a Pressure or Immersion release?"

This would mean on a water landing or crash one or both of the "Black Boxes" would float and be quickly recoverable with the impact co-ordinates recorder.

Quick recovery of craft and bodies would then be possible.

Just a thought..

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#8
In reply to #7

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/09/2009 7:21 PM

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

They don't float. To make them float would cost a ton. But the cost of modifying existing aircraft to pop them out the top makes this impossible. To certify this type of airframe mod, never mind. Design it into new planes, someday.

How would the plane necessarily know if it was over land or water?

Sorry to be negative.

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#11
In reply to #8

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/09/2009 8:25 PM

Not Negative, Realistic...and I understand the cost issues.

Floatation is as simple and cheap as an airbag and CO2 cylinder, and if the crash is on land, this system is irrelevant. The floatation bag should be bright orange and inflate regardless to aid in location and recovery.

True, this is a forward thinking solution, but mods to aircraft that do not effect the airframe are made on a regular basis for various reasons.

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#64
In reply to #8

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/13/2009 5:33 AM

Hi how about looking at the saline solution? good for salt water, dont land in fresh water.

I know nothing mate, but the commentry is very interisting.

Keep those idears going, out there is a simple solution, i hope!

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#9

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/09/2009 7:35 PM

"is it time think about revamping the black box?"

The Dang black box is not the problem! Find the crash site first and worry about the black box later. An EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon, 406MHz)would solve the problem of the crash site for about $1200 US each. A series of them jettisoned at critical intervals would point to the site anywhere in the world. Tied to a parachute that would bring it to earth or act as a sea anchor, the last one fired off at 500 ft. over elevation. They will operate the beacon and a strobe light for 48 hours, and as long as they are registered, will be pinpointed within minutes of activation using GPS coordinates. This is what's needed, what is available, and is not being utilized.

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#10
In reply to #9

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/09/2009 7:45 PM

Give 'em to the co-pilot and have him chuck them out of the cockpit window on the way down.

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#12

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/09/2009 8:34 PM

In the end it really comes down to cost VS benefit. The amount of airplane crashes are very low compared to the enormous cost and small benefit obtained (even when taking into account reduced ocean salvage costs).

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#14
In reply to #12

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/09/2009 9:20 PM

Your comment makes no sense to me.

So why bother with a black box ($50,000), when an EPIRB will do it for cheap?

Because the black box will tell the engineers what went wrong, the lawyers will know where to point the finger, and the insurance underwriters will not have to deal with additional lawuits from survivors if rescue is too late at the scene. Can't find the black box? Shrugs shoulders and goes home.

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#16
In reply to #14

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/09/2009 11:26 PM

The black box is a tool and not absolutely necessary to discovery the cause of a crash (a very, very useful tool but still a tool), in fact structural analysis of the wreckage plays as big a part (if not bigger). Additionally few black boxes have actually been lost in crashes (some have been destroyed however) and even fewer crashes remain unsolved due to the lack of a black box (destroyed or lost), making the overall benefit actually quite small.

Add to this the rigid structure of the airline industry (makes the automotive industry look flexible in comparison), meaning that if you want to upgrade a few or thousands of planes you had better have a very, very good reason and massive clear benefit (the cost of upgrading existing planes is surprisingly expensive).

Cost VS Benefit.

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#15

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/09/2009 9:34 PM

I think the black boxes themselves work fine. To survive these accidents they have to be made so durable to impacts and high heat that I seriously doubt that they can ever be made to float. The only possibility that comes to my mind is an ancillary method to physical retrieval of the box for data. Possibly in the event of a detected catastrophic failure, a rapid upload to a satellite could copy some presumed suitable data. While this would help to locate a crash site and pass some information about the failures detected, it would never replace retrieving the box and its total collection of data frequently needed to discern the root cause of the accident.

But lets get real here, the black box is only a concern when things go wrong. Things sometimes go wrong in ways that nobody can think of. So from time to time accidents will happen without a retrievable black box. You cannot think of everything.

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#18

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/10/2009 2:03 AM

interesting discourse...

yes. asking the airlines to conduct "drastic" change on established standards is akin to parting the sea. The question here is mostly addressing the manufacturers of these devises. True, the cost-benefit ratio would have to be analysed, and to paraphrase a previous poster, maybe the frequency of crashes is too low (especially over seas and oceans) for a substantial benefit to be realized by the purchasers. yeah, but what percentage of the total cost of say a 747 does a flight data recorder (FDR) represent? I would argue that the design can always be improved upon (that's why i'm an engineer),and the manager in me says for such a change to occur, a careful feasiblity study has to be conducted. If a revamp is at all possible, it would have to be implemented on new aircraft in my opinion. R&R would be an unwise business decision.

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#19

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/10/2009 2:38 AM

Why does it seem so simple to me. Many life vests and life rafts auto-inflate when immersed, and the locating beacon can be included in the items set to be floated if immersed.

The beacon alone couldn't cost that much since every serious hiker/climber has one pinned next to his water bottle. Automobile airbag technology and a cheap floating beacon, what's to invent?

Remembering the water landing in the Hudson river, It could even make a difference someday that would more than cover the cost.

I'm with FlipFlop on this one. CJM

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#22
In reply to #19

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/10/2009 9:57 AM

You forget though that life vests and rafts are for the animated objects inside the plane, people. People will navigate their way through the wreckage to the outside of the plane before it sinks. Black boxes do not move on their own. Permitting them to move will now permit premature movement. You can't get something for nothing.

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#28
In reply to #19

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/10/2009 11:49 PM

Thank you CJ.

I am reminded of Ripley (Sigorney Weaver) as she was asked how an alien could eat her crew: "Did IQ's drop while I was away?"

OK, maybe my response was 'off topic', but WTF is no one answering why we don't use what we have?

Shrugs shoulder and goes home.

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#20

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/10/2009 5:10 AM

We kind of got ourselves in a pickle with this one now didn't we!! Airplanes are built so reiable that when one goes astray we are buffaloed as to what has happened. The only answers can be found with the aid of the so called "black boxes". What ever happened to good old investigative sauve'.

To answer on "how to improve" would be to move the boxes from their location to smaller units scattered around the aircraft. Small units stuck in various places that can record some parmeters of flight characteristics. The cost would be less than a full blown box as the protection would less to construct. The benifits would be if a piece of the aircraft is recovered at least a small record device would be recovered. Locating these pieces could be acomplished via statalite tracking, same as those put on whales, small tranmitters that ativate when G forces reach a certian limit and wrapped in fire proof bubble wrap. The wrap will protect them from fire and will float.

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#23
In reply to #20

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/10/2009 10:02 AM

"wrapped in fire proof bubble wrap."

Funny but I can't seem to be able to find this using the GlobalSpec search engine. Do they keep that in the back at Staples?

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#33
In reply to #23

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/11/2009 2:13 AM

"Fire proof bubble wrap", what an interesting concept, wish I would have thought of it!! Boy, could you imagine the uses. Fire proof insulation on airplanes, cars and trucks. How about the cost saving in fuel because of the reduced weight as compared to an equal R value of others and fire proof. This material could even be used on the next generation of space craft and suits for race car drivers. Did I mention it could be used to wrap small black boxes on airplanes and stuck in different areas in cases of a total destruction of the airplane. Cheers (Isle three, very back, bottom shelf)

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#21

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/10/2009 7:45 AM

What about having two sets of black boxes? They have to be synchronized but that's not difficult to do. At least with two sets, you'll have a better chance to find one of them.

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#24

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/10/2009 12:24 PM

OK, so leave the black box to sink and fend for itself, but a cheap beacon that floats and pops out of the fuselage something like an automobile airbag, triggered say by a pressure/depth sensor still seems like a brilliant concept.

It wouldn't hurt if the boxes had wireless communication upon query, to aid in the data recovery at great ocean depths in cases where the box itself proves difficult to retrieve.

Looks like a brain storm coming on; better grab your umbrella. CJM

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#25
In reply to #24

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/10/2009 1:04 PM

Wireless communication from the bottom of the ocean? This is not Hollywood. You cannot make pipe dreams happen by just writing them into the script. Look up what it takes to talk to a submarine. Particularly the part on Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) once used to communicate to submarines, but not from submarines. I hear your next comment though, "The emergency buoy could lift a communication wire from the Black Box to the surface. An antenna on the buoy could transmit the data." How long of a cable will you put on the airplane? Don't forget it will have to be strong because ocean currents will pull the buoy in some direction away from the box. So no matter how long it is, all of it will be used until it snaps.

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#26
In reply to #25

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/10/2009 1:34 PM

The details are not the issue, actually a chewing gum sized memory chip, ejected and floating with a beacon, could contain a copy of all the pertinent data. I was actually addressing the lack of locating the beacon after a plane sinks.

The main point is that I am in favor of any improvements to a system that has revealed it's limitations and not been updated for a long time, and I'm sure we can easily devise a method that works better than the current process.

BTW, I was thinking of the films of the sunken Titanic, and the deep probes that could get fairly close but maybe not actually retrieve the box. Surely some comm system could be devised for close-proximity data collection under water. Infra red, ultrasonic, laser and fiber optic jump to mind, but I'm comfortable leaving the details to those who will carry the cost. CJM

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#32
In reply to #26

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/11/2009 1:47 AM

Airplane Black box Recorders have ultrasonic pingers. When the end is wet or in dirt it pings for more than a month.

That works better in water than any other method.

How is this off topic?

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#34
In reply to #32

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/11/2009 3:30 AM

I marked the answer to your comment 'off topic' since it does not address the original question, and I hate to see the discussion get too massive and lose the direct answers to the question proffered in all the side issues that arise.

In regard to the ping, I presume it is for locating and does not carry any data. Still falls short of what can be done apparently. I notice the search has been called off in the latest case with no boxes found.

So many things float after these crashes, seats, luggage, people; why can't a locator or data recorder be designed to float? It's just a no-brainer to me.

Heck, why don't we design a bright orange floating suitcase that stays in each cargo hold, with a beacon and/or a copy of the data? Doesn't have to be fancy or expensive since the actual black box is still the official device, and the ejection of the case is a slam-dunk, so to speak.

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#46
In reply to #34

Re: Airplane black boxes

07/11/2009 1:00 PM

I see what you mean.

Thanks.

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#29

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/11/2009 1:02 AM

Why cant they just send some sort of digital signal, when they are too deep to recover, the digital signal would only be sent went they had located the position of the black box. The digital signal would have the last minutes of flight information.

Ok i dont know, what i am talking about, no idea on black boxes, never had one.

I dont know!

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#31
In reply to #29

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/11/2009 1:27 AM

I commend you on your honesty. Knowing that you don't know all the answers is the start of knowledge. you are on the right track.

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#35

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/11/2009 4:10 AM

Maybe over simplification but why is the data not sent continuously via satellite to a base station? - then Black box would be history.

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#38
In reply to #35

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/11/2009 7:21 AM

Hi hazman,

No way. When communication snaps out, not immediately people know, that something went wrong and they look for crash, lost or hijack. I think they do after several hours already lost and when they think that fuel tank may be empty and airplane will drop down on its own and they get alarmed. Until then they think Pilots are having some fun somewhere they don't know and may come back any time calling them hello.

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#40
In reply to #38

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/11/2009 9:54 AM

I suppose that once the plane crashes the last thing on the Pilots mind is the black box, or the hostess on his knee (is this recorded on the black box?).

I must be a bit daft but as the plane is in constant contact with a satellite for navigation why can it not be feeding the data back to a base station. I don't suppose they need to store that much info anyway. Half an hour should do.

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#42
In reply to #40

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/11/2009 12:41 PM

hazman wrote: "I suppose that once the plane crashes the last thing on the Pilots mind is the black box, or the hostess on his knee (is this recorded on the black box?)."

No. this is recorded on the cockpit voice recorder .

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#52
In reply to #40

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/11/2009 10:21 PM

Dear hazman,

Pilot really does not interact with Black Box deliberately. He uses all tools to try to land safely and also sends emergency SOS and uses all knowledge available on board and from ground using radio link. Their talk and engine problems signals get recorded. These are only signatures Black Box has.

This information possibly can also be transmitted if possible using a radio link until power snaps. Usually Pilot is in touch with ground safety net that guides Pilot. Lost contact is something of worry and then ground people start hunting for signals.

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#53
In reply to #35

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/12/2009 1:11 AM

I believe you've got it watson! we can track all other Data real time, what's so hard about keepng tabs on the critical Data like structual integrity and the like..,Abrupt power loss and basic aeronutical physics,(or am i giving too much credit to some of our engineers in the industry).when we can recieve simple signals like GPS,then we should be able to send DATA bundles in cycles to those same trancievers...,something like that!

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#55
In reply to #53

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/12/2009 1:41 AM

Have you ever heard of anyone uploading anything to a GPS Satellite?

Wouldn't that be an invitation to hackers?

The Master Control Station: The master control station, located at Falcon Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is responsible for overall management of the remote monitoring and transmission sites. GPS ephemeris being a tabulation of computed positions, velocities and derived right ascension and declination of GPS satellites at specific times, replace "position" with "ephemeris" because the Master Control Station computes not only position but also velocity, right ascension and declination parameters for eventual upload to GPS satellites.

Satellite Monitoring Stations: Six monitor stations are located at Falcon Air Force Base in Colorado, Cape Canaveral, Florida, Hawaii, Ascension Island in the Atlantic Ocean, Diego Garcia Atoll in the Indian Ocean, and Kwajalein Island in the South Pacific Ocean. Each of the monitor stations checks the exact altitude, position, speed, and overall health of the orbiting satellites. The control segment uses measurements collected by the monitor stations to predict the behavior of each satellite's orbit and clock. The prediction data is uplinked, or transmitted, to the satellites for transmission back to the users. The control segment also ensures that the GPS satellite orbits and clocks remain within acceptable limits. A station can track up to 11 satellites at a time. This "check-up" is performed twice a day, by each station, as the satellites complete their journeys around the earth. Noted variations, such as those caused by the gravity of the moon, sun and the pressure of solar radiation, are passed along to the master control station.

Ground Antennas: Ground antennas monitor and track the satellites from horizon to horizon. They also transmit correction information to individual satellites.

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#36

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/11/2009 5:31 AM

I agree with you totally of the necessity for rethinking present method of investigating air crashes using on board flight data recorders popularly known as "Black Box". Fortunately there are practical, reliable alternate telemetry systems available. These technologies are capable of presenting valuable real time data remotely, representing quantum leap in the approach to crash investigation and more vitally forewarn of a potentially catastrophic failures waiting to happen. I am sure it is matter of time before remote air craft flight data recorder will make the existing Digital Flight Data Recorder system absolvent, ensuring taking air safety to unprecedented levels. Interested readers may go through the following to get a glimpse of the technology. http://www.iasa.com.au/folders/Publications/pdf_library/levine.pdf Synopsis The Remote Aircraft Flight Recorder and Advisory Telemetry System, RAFT (Patented), And It's Ability to Reduce fatal Air Accidents By 78% 1 While Enhancing Air Space Capacity, Operational Efficiency and Aircraft Security RAFT is a worldwide real-time aircraft remote monitoring recording system that is used for enhancing airspace capacity, operational efficiency, passenger safety and security. It brings the digital flight data recorder information out of an archival database and plugs it into a real-time usable accident prevention system. It ends the information vacuum created between the aircraft and air traffic controller. Presently each is acting separately lacks the sensors to directly measure the necessary parameters required for preventing aircraft mishaps. Combining these data sensors enhances the effective sensor suite so that many events can be anticipated. This event anticipation capability provides the visibility and time mandatory for the prevention of accidents. A best estimate of the location of a downed aircraft for timely search, rescue and retrieval operations may be provided by linking the global telemetry of the DFDR parameters to a ground processing and distribution station. RAFT updates the federated system and unifies the communications approach so that the relevant data parameters are globally visible and readily available for timely and cost-effective problem resolution. It is a system engineering approach that potentially can eliminate or minimize the need for the costly and time intensive recovery of the aircraft's recorder

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#39
In reply to #36

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/11/2009 9:08 AM

"Fortunately there are practical, reliable alternate telemetry systems available."

GA. We have the existing components, so it does not seem like a hardware problem. Thinking outside of the (black) box is a problem for the software engineers. Alternative deployment systems might be used as well. Pitching a unit out the cockpit window will present problems when the stewardess is on the copilots lap, so the system used for ejecting chaff canisters should work here. Or the same mechanism used to trigger an air bag.

This equipment is all 'off the shelf', although this was not the case 20 years ago. Last I heard this was the 21st century.

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#41
In reply to #39

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/11/2009 12:21 PM

"system used for ejecting chaff canisters should work here."

Introducing an explosive or pneumatic ejection system will least appeal to civil aircraft designed or certifying authorities. Rightly so, as inadvertent ejection on ground or on in flight always presents potentially dangerous situation. The maintenance and operation of ejection devices are not without its own problems and safety implications

Health of aircraft and missiles are routinely done during development flights through remote telemetry system.

This is logical future for the flight data recorder technology.

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#44
In reply to #41

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/11/2009 12:46 PM

that was a great article krishanan.ng. Thank you for the post. GA

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#43
In reply to #36

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/11/2009 12:42 PM

While I don't dispute the possible use for radio linked telemetry to supplement black box recording, don't many storms interfere with radio communications? I seem to remember that automatic telemetry was transmitted by the plane recently lost off of the coast of Brazil. So why do they still want to locate the black box? I suspect this can be explained in two ways. First the black box recordings include data of many settings over the last thirty minutes, not just the last telemetry transmissions of something awry. So if the radio went out first but the plane was still flying, the recorder would continue to record data of later aircraft changes. Second the physical condition of the black box itself being so mechanically secured to a part of the plane may reveal some of the kinematic forces experienced by the craft.

Black boxes are literally the records of last resort. Being the last resort, they should be designed to rely as little as possible on any other system (ie satellite reception, buoy release and capture) to record the data. They will always be looked for after an accident for they may contain that missing piece of information. But as anyone with an engineering bent should realize, anything can be destroyed by nature. We will never be able to recover all black boxes.

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#54
In reply to #36

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/12/2009 1:19 AM

ya see! this is why i joined CR4, so i could learn something. thanxs krishnan.ng

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#56
In reply to #36

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/12/2009 2:24 AM

Currently regular contacts are made along a flightpath.

Sometimes the most important info is gained after stuff like radios and RAFT type systems are out.

Two separate flight data recorders and flight deck recorders powered by separate power sources provide a high likelyhood that one set will have the data.

There are few instances where the recorders are not available after a mishap. Airfrance's deepwater crash my become a site for testing a new deepwater sub.

Then they will find out what was happening to the throttles and engines.

An Airbus 340-600, was parked in its hangar in Toulouse, France without a single hour of air time. It was due to be delivered to Etihad Airways in Abu Dhabi.

The ADAT crew of Abu Dhabi Aircraft Technologies, taxied the Airbus to the run up area, ready to conduct pre-delivery tests on the ground. They took all four engines to take off power, with a virtually empty aircraft. They did not have a clue as to how light an empty A350-600 really is.

The take off warning horn blared in the cockpit. The aircraft computers thought they were trying to take off, as all four engines were on full power. One of the crew decided to pull the circuit breaker on the Ground Proximity Sensor so as silence the alarm. The ADAT crew had no idea it was a safety measure, so pilots couldn't land with brakes on.

With the circuit breaker pulled the aircraft believed it was airborne. The computers automatically released all the brakes and set the aircraft rocketing forward. None of the seven man crew from ADAT were quick enough to throttle back the engines from their max power setting. The $200 million dollar, brand new aircraft blasted its way onto a blast-barrier, totaling it.

Should have READ THE MANUAL!

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#57
In reply to #56

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/12/2009 4:02 AM

I actually got sent some pictures sometime ago, I may still have them if anyone is interested. No promises though.....

The story goes exactly as you said......not much of the aircraft was of any use afterwards......I am even surprised that the crew bunch of idiots was not killed.

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#59
In reply to #57

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/12/2009 10:48 PM

I wonder what the data in the Orange black boxes revealed.

Arabic for "Oh s**t" from 7 people in unison?

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#45

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/11/2009 12:59 PM

I see a possible problem(s) with black box ejection, eg. when do you eject?

Too soon and valuable data will be lost lost/missed.........it might even happen in the middle of an otherwise normal flight......

They need to be ejected only on the command of the search and rescue team, not before.......

For watery conditions, a small gas cylinder and some form of airbag, should hopefully bring it to the surface......

Some improvements for locating the boxes would also be good.......

I think that the telemetry system has merit if ALL planes are in constant contact with a satelite, but not instead of, but as well as the black boxes!!

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#47

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/11/2009 2:05 PM

Flipflop,

In spring of 2008 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandated significant upgrades to aircraft cockpit voice and flight data recorders in an effort to help investigators retrieve more and better data from airplane accidents and mishaps. manufacturers as well as operators of airplanes and helicopters with 10 or more seats, must employ voice recorders, also known as black boxes, that capture the last two hours of cockpit audio instead of the current 15 to 30 minutes. The new rules also require an independent backup power source for the voice recorders to allow continued recording for nine to 11 minutes if all aircraft power sources are lost or interrupted. Voice recorders also must use solid state technology instead of magnetic tape, which is vulnerable to damage and loss of reliability. This will provide more information about the causes of accidents and help find ways to avoid them in the future."

The Cockpit Voice Recorder, records radio transmissions and sounds in the cockpit, such as the pilot's voices and engine noises.

The Flight Data Recorder, monitors parameters such as altitude, airspeed and heading. The older analog units use one-quarter inch magnetic tape as a storage medium and the newer ones use digital technology and memory chips. Both recorders are installed in the most crash survivable part of the aircraft, usually the tail section. Each recorder is equipped with an Underwater Locator Beacon to assist in locating in the event of an overwater accident. The device called a "pinger", is activated when the recorder is immersed in water. It transmits an acoustical signal on 37.5 KHz that can be detected with a special receiver. The beacon can transmit from depths down to 14,000 feet.

The new rule mandates that the recorders measure aircraft data more frequently than is now required, including the aircraft's primary flight control movements and the pilots' movement of the controls, the FAA said. The data recorders also must retain the last 25 hours of recorded information. These provisions affect new aircraft manufactured after March 7, 2010.

Details of the final rule are here: http://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/recently_published/ . They include the following instructions:

* Within two years, require all aircraft required to have a cockpit voice recorder to be retrofitted with a device that receives, on dedicated channels, uninterrupted input from the boom or mask microphone and headphones of each crewmember; and uninterrupted input from an area microphone. During these recordings, a sidetone must be produced only when the transmitter or interphone is selected. Finally, all audio signals received by hand-held microphones must be recorded on the respective flight crewmember's channel when keyed to the "ON" position.

* Require that all newly manufactured cockpit voice recorders intended for use on airplanes have a minimum recording duration of two hours.

* By January 1, 2005, retrofit all airplanes that are required to carry a cockpit and data recorder with a system that is capable of recording the last two hours of audio; and is fitted with a 10 minute independent power source that is located with the device and that automatically engages and provides 10 minutes of operation whenever power to the recorder ceases, either by normal shutdown or by a loss of power to the bus.

* Require all aircraft manufactured after January 1, 2003, that are required to carry a cockpit and data recorder be equipped with two combination cockpit voice and data recording systems. One system should be located as close to the cockpit as practicable and the other as far aft as practicable. Both recording systems should be capable of recording all mandatory data parameters covering the previous 25 hours of operation and all cockpit audio and controller pilot datalink communications for the previous two hours of operation. The system located near the cockpit should be provided with an independent power source that engages automatically and provides 10 minutes of operation whenever normal aircraft power ceases. The aft system should be powered by the bus that provides the maximum reliability for operation without jeopardizing service to essential or emergency loads. The system near the cockpit should be powered by the bus that provides the second highest reliability for operation without jeopardizing service to essential or emergency loads.

* Require that cockpit and data flight recorders be redundant powered from separate generator buses with the highest reliability.

Strange, more people die in auto accidents but Department of Transportation is not requiring cars to be equiped with such technology.

Jon

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#48
In reply to #47

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/11/2009 2:14 PM

I just love accurate citations. Somebody please join me to give this the "Good" status this deserves.

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#49
In reply to #48

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/11/2009 2:20 PM

Done.

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#50
In reply to #48

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/11/2009 3:05 PM

Thanks Red,

The boys in the Recorders service shop were talking about this when I retired but I just found the "good" info on line.

I don't share shop talk. It is proprietary.

Jon

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#62
In reply to #47

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/13/2009 12:24 AM

Additional data as follows.

New US registered planes will have battery backed recorders by April 2010, with retrofits on old planes by 2012. Planes registered in Europe will follow suit in 2012

http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20327165.600-black-boxes-to-get-backup-battery.html

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#51

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/11/2009 3:25 PM

I don't know if it has been mentioned yet, but we have actually had two prior discussions about the black box recorders since that ocean crash.

here and here

Chris

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#58

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/12/2009 2:27 PM

I CAN SUGGEST TWO VERY OBVIOUS ANSWERS TO THIS QUESTION:

1) HAVE A DEVICE, SIMILAR TO AN AIR BAG IN CARS, THAT WILL EXPLODE THE BLACK BOX OUT OF A PLANE UPON A SUDDEN, CATATASROPHIC IMPACT.

2) HAVE EACH AIRPLANE CONTAIN MICROCHIP COPIES OF INFORMATION CONTAINED IN THE BLACK BOX . THIS INFORMATION IS TO BE IN MEMORY CAPSULES THAT ARE BURIED IN THE SKIN TO THE PLANE, CONNECTED TO THE ORIGINAL BLACK BOX UNDER NORMAL OPERATING CONDITIONS.

IN CASE THE ORIGINAL BLACK BOX CANNOT BE RETRIEVED, ONE OF THE CHIPS MAY BE RETREIVEABLE. FOR EXAMPLE, THE TAIL SECTION OF THE AIR FRANCE AUTOBUS RECENTLY LOST IN THE ATLANTIC OFF THE COAST OF BRAZIL. IF THAT TAIL SECTION HAD CONTAINED A MICROCHIP WITH THE INFORMATION THAT IS STORED IN THE BLACK BOX, THERE WOULD BE NO NEED FOR THE MANY MILLIONS OF DOLLARS OF EFFORT TO RECOVER THE ORIGINAL BLACK BOX. MEMORY CHIPS ARE CHEAP...

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#63

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/13/2009 5:19 AM

The black box is so good at surviving a crash why don't they just make the whole 'plane from the same stuff?

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#65
In reply to #63

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/13/2009 6:24 AM

Are you ready to pay 10 times fare? Plane manufacturers are ready to make planes as per your needs.

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#66
In reply to #63

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/13/2009 9:31 AM

Also even the old magnetic recording materials would survive several G's of force and considerably higher temperature than any sauna without added protection.

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#74
In reply to #63

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/13/2009 11:34 PM

They do. They are called OCEAN LINERS.

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#67

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/13/2009 9:46 AM

Yes, I think so. It should be some way to have it to eject on impact like a pilot of a fighter plane with some flotation provided. That should be simple with todays technology.

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#68
In reply to #67

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/13/2009 10:09 AM

Simple to do only if one doesn't care about accidental ejection, added turbulence, added weight and space, safety from adding explosives to a passenger aircraft and I'm sure a host of other concerns. People outside of their field of expertise should not say something is simple. I do not work in aviation in any fashion, and yet I came up with short list of added concerns.

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#69
In reply to #68

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/13/2009 12:40 PM

Dear redfred

Succinct and excellent points.

You are very correct about the hazards of adding explosives to an air craft structure which will be maintenance night mare not to speak of enormous cost of consumables.

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#70
In reply to #68

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/13/2009 6:31 PM

Why would you use explosives??

Compressed gases are used in everything from the tyres to the airconditioing through the slides and life jackets.

This is all old and reliable technology which the civil aviation guys are already familiar with.

Since the "Black Box" is so important, the extra couple of kilos would be worth the weight penalty.

The "Black box" will never prevent a failure, but by identifying what failed, may save many future lives.

Regards,
Sapper

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#71
In reply to #70

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/13/2009 8:43 PM

Good point Sapper. My problem here is that I think the crash site is more important than the black box. However the system is deployed is moot if it does not identify the the crash site. I realize that the topic is 'black boxes', but if you can't find where contact was lost, then much more than data could be lost.

I have heard many posts about what can and cannot be done, and most of them are by concerned people who have no idea of what is available on the next UPS truck, off the shelf, and for less money than a trip to the orthodontist.

'BANG HEAD HERE' summarizes what I have been trying to explain about 'EPIRB's'. No sailors here aparently.

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#72
In reply to #71

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/13/2009 8:53 PM

I understood (and I may be wrong) that the "Black Boxes" had the flight tracking data as well, so the aircraft could be back tracked once the "Black box" is recovered as the recording function would obviously stop on isolation from the aircraft systems.

I agree that EPIRBs should be attached to the "Black Box" and probably 1 in 10 life jackets and the Rafts. only about the size of a Cigarette pack for those suitabe for the life jackes and 1.25 soft drink bottle for the marine grade version attached to yachts.

Even allowing for drift while sinking, the search area is by default much smaller.

Regards,
Sapper.

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#73
In reply to #72

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/13/2009 9:29 PM

"Black Boxes" had the flight tracking data"

'Had' is the operative word here. Many others, as well as myself have argued for an updated data burst transfer.

Duh!

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#76
In reply to #73

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/13/2009 11:47 PM

Tippy,

What about the data burst that told the folks on the ground that all hell was breaking loose when that bird was biting the dust?

Jon

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#88
In reply to #73

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/14/2009 7:57 PM

acars is real time , fadac reports in real time.

the Airbus has both already.

Boeing uses acars.

some Boeing's w/ Rolls Royce power plants also have fadac.

really folks, it's , imho , not about the systems. they work , and work well.

28 acars msg's over 3 minutes...i'd call that proof.

i'm sure some one will disagree w/ me over that.

Edigan proposed flares, i suggested an eject-able mini cruse missile ( nte 1 meter in length ) to fit next to the outflow valve. { the outflow valves open in the case of rapid cabin decompression: it could trigger the release of the drone }( there's room; would make it harder to get to the lav tanks when i have to go find your wifes wedding ring , but. ) I'm sure that both could be incorporated by eco , fcd quite easily. if installed when the a/c goes in for MBV, the impact to the psm wouldn't be a deterent to the airlines .

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#82
In reply to #70

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/14/2009 9:47 AM

I dislike even approaching verbal abuse. But if I could give you a dope slap I would. Ignoring my concept that people out of their field of expertise should not call something simple because you cannot understand one and apparently only one aspect of my argument approaches bigotry.

I can easily anticipate design scenarios that in order to assure mechanical integrity of the outer skin would require small strategically placed explosive charges to assure egress of the data package during the brief ejection interval. Then a slow burning explosive charge maybe required to guarantee transition into a 400 mph slip stream. ETC.

To repeat though my earlier point, I am not an avionics engineer and I have serious reservations about deliberately planning on letting things leave a commercial airplane in flight.

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#85
In reply to #82

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/14/2009 12:17 PM

Particularly blue ice.

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#75
In reply to #67

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/13/2009 11:41 PM

There is a set near the tail and a set in the front.

Did you notice the tail floats? Not enough of it this time.

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#77
In reply to #75

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/13/2009 11:51 PM

The tail always floats...Thats where gas builds up

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#78
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Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/13/2009 11:57 PM

The APU will burn that too.

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#79
In reply to #77

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

07/14/2009 2:38 AM

That is the problem, arse in the air, head then underwater........ but at least you don't get poisoned by the gas!!

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#95

Re: Airplane Black Boxes

09/17/2009 8:13 PM

I don't know if this has been mentioned but it is an example of a commercial alternative to the black box.

http://spectrum.ieee.org/aerospace/aviation/alternative-to-black-boxes-takes-flight

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