Airbus launches initiative to reinforce flight data recovery capability

TOULOUSE, France, 9 July 2009. Airbus officials launched a study for reinforcing flight data recovery, including, but not limited to, extended data transmission for commercial airliners, so that in the event of accidents, critical flight information can still be recovered and released to the investigating authorities.

TOULOUSE, France, 9 July 2009.Airbus officials launched a study for reinforcing flight data recovery, including, but not limited to, extended data transmission for commercial airliners, so that in the event of accidents, critical flight information can still be recovered and released to the investigating authorities.

"Gathering information from accidents is vitally important to further improve the safety of flying," says Tom Enders, president and chief executive officer of Airbus. "Various technical means for reinforcing flight data recovery and data transmission to ground centers are principally available. We will now study different options for viable commercial solutions, including those where our experience with real-time data transmission from our own test aircraft could support the further development of such solutions."

The study will be conducted by Patrick Gavin, head of Airbus Engineering, and Charles Champion, head of Customer Services, and will need to address technological issues as well as data protection and privacy concerns. Airbus will include industrial partners, research institutions, and international airworthiness and investigation authorities in this study.

Currently Airbus does not receive direct information from digital flight data recorder (DFDR) and cockpit voice recorders (CVR) – the so-called Black Boxes, airbus officials say. The DFDR collects data from aircraft systems, while the CVR records crew conversation and aural warnings.

Presently, the only possible means to retrieve information from the DFDR and CVR is to process them on ground with very specific ground tools, company officials say. DFDR and CVR do not transmit real time information - that responsibility is managed and controlled by the investigation authorities.

Today's existing air-to-ground links for 'Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System' (ACARS) maintenance data transmission do not offer the bandwidth that would be needed for a fully real-time transmission of all the data stored in the DFDR and CVR, Airbus officials say.

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