Flight Tracking Solutions
MH-370 as a Catalyst for Practical Answers
The disappearance of MH-370 was a catalyst for regulatory proposals from ICAO and EASA. The later evidenced some good ideas and the former was premature and impractical. The private sector has created two possible solutions:
The disappearance of MH-370 exposed the susceptibility to losing an aircraft beyond the range of radar and demonstrated of the existing on board connectivity to get an accurate position of an airliner. In response to that tragedy a number of solutions were proposed, and one concern expressed was that by requiring sending of positional and other parameters constantly would create a massive, impractical (?) data center.
Rockwell Collins has introduced a new onboard aircraft tracking system which will limit its transmissions. The equipment monitors aircraft information with parameters to initiate sending a stream of aircraft performance data. The Onboard Aircraft Tracking solution, once it monitors a specific set of system measurements which should correlate with flight problems.
When OAT reads indicators of low altitude, low speed, excessive pitch, engine failure and others, it automatically begins to emit aircraft position information at an increased rate. The onboard aircraft tracking function is implemented as an update to the Airline Operational Control (AOC) avionics software and is available for both forward fit and retrofit.
OAT should meet IATA’s Aircraft Tracking Task Force and of ICAO’s Global Aeronautical Distress and Safety System standards.
That sounds like a viable solution which could fill in an important gap in global flight coverage without overloading the residual data center.
The new devices will come in two versions: a fixed crash-protected Cockpit Voice and Data Recorder (CVDR), capable of recording up to 25 hours of voice and flight data on a single recorder; and an Automatic Deployable Flight Recorder (ADFR).
This new CVDR will be lighter, more compact, and will provide new capabilities compared with current generation of recorders, including versatile interfaces. The new CVDR answers the EASA and ICAO requirement to extend the duration of voice recording to 25 hours (today the current requirement calls for a duration of two hours of voice recording).
Two of these new CVDRs would be fitted on the shorter-range A320 aircraft. This will greatly increase the redundancy for both voice and flight data recovery, compared with today’s aircraft installations – which comprise just one flight data recorder plus one separate voice recorder.
The other version of the new recording system – the ADFR – is aimed at longer range aircraft, with extended flight time over water or remote areas, such as the Airbus A321LR, A330, A350 XWB and A380. The ADFR will add a new capability to commercial aircraft: the ability to be deployed automatically in case of significant structural deformation or water submersion.
Designed to float, the crash-protected memory module containing up to 25 hours of recorded cockpit voice and flight data will be equipped with an integrated Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) to help rescue teams to rapidly locate and recover flight recorders.
Given some time, technology can design some practical and useful answers.