Airbus Launches Program To Improve Flight Data Recovery

 - July 6, 2009, 6:54 AM

Airbus has launched a study for improving flight data recovery, including extended data transmission for commercial airliners, the company announced last week in an apparent acknowledgement of the deficiencies highlighted by the crash of Air France Flight 447 and subsequent efforts to recover its FDR and CVR.

“Gathering information from accidents is vitally important to further improve the safety of flying,” said Airbus president and CEO Tom Enders. “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.”

Patrick Gavin, head of Airbus engineering, and Charles Champion, head of customer services, will conduct the study and assess the need to address technological barriers, as well as data protection and privacy concerns. Airbus said the project will include industrial partners, research institutions and international airworthiness and investigation authorities.

Recovery crews have yet to find the data and voice recorders from the Flight 447 A330-200 that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean June 2 during a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris. The first phase of the search for the flight’s data recorders will continue until July 10, by which time they likely will have stopped emitting acoustic signals. After that time, said the BEA, the French research vessel Pourquoi Pas? will begin a second phase of the search using diving equipment and towed sonar.

Much of the information investigators have so far disseminated originated from the airplane’s ACARS, a device that transmits air-to-ground maintenance data but doesn’t carry enough bandwidth needed for a fully real-time transmission of all the data stored in the FDR and CVR.