Deployable Recorders and Downed Aircraft

MH370 disappearance increases pressure for streaming data and deployable recorders

The airline industry appears to be gravitating toward two midterm solutions for global flight-tracking since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) went missing in March. Individually or together, triggered flight-data transmissions and deployable flight recorders could quickly determine an aircraft’s location and basic health, pre- or post-incident.
 
Both technologies are available today and were highly touted in the aftermath of the crash of Air France Flight 447 in June 2009, when it took five days to find wreckage and nearly two years to recover the recorders. Despite renewed pressure to act following MH370’s disappearance, neither technology is yet considered a “near-term” possibility, primarily due to the cost and time to retrofit the equipment into legacy fleets or build up substantial numbers of factory-equipped new aircraft. 
 
“The ironic thing is that in the search for MH370, there were Australian P-3s, a Japanese P-3, an Indian P8I, Sea King and Sea Hawk helicopters, all fitted with deployable recorders,” says Blake van den Heuvel, director of air programs for DRS Technologies, which has approximately 5,000 deployable recorders in service, most in military or search-and-rescue aircraft. Read the full story in the August 4, 2014 issue of Aviation Week & Space Technology (digital subscription required).
 
See more about DRS's deployable technology and some aircraft that carry it.

 
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