DRS Technologies, part of the Finmeccanica group (Outside Exhibit 1), is promoting a flight data recorder that deploys upon impact in the event of a crash. The system has been used for many years in military aircraft and helicopters operating in the offshore industry, and has been put to the test many times. The need for a system for commercial aircraft that can be easily and quickly recovered has been brought into sharp focus following the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in March.
Known as the Deployable Flight Data Recorder, the DRS system is designed to separate from the aircraft on impact with either land or water. In its fast-jet application it is also deployed on initiation of the ejection seat. The data recorder has been designed to withstand enormous impact loads, and it also floats.
In the event of a crash the DFDR immediately begins sending location and aircraft identification data through search and rescue satellite systems, alerting rescue organizations and providing a homing signal for rescue crews. This not only speeds the search process for the aircraft itself, but also helps to locate the flight data for rapid analysis of the causes of the accident.
DFDR is one of many high-tech systems that DRS is showcasing at Farnborough. Others include the MAGIC aircrew situational awareness moving-map system, helicopter mast-mounted sight and AHHS (altitude helicopter hold and hover stabilization) system. The latter is integrated with the flight control system, drawing on data from numerous sources to provide automated descent and go-round, hands-free low-altitude hover and other functions that can increase safety when operating in degraded visual environments and in tight landing spaces.
Another of DRS’s specialties on show is the provision of test equipment, notably that for flightline use. While most airborne electronic warfare systems incorporate a BIT (built-in test) function, their full functionality cannot be tested without the provision of a threat signal. The company’s EC ETET (electronic combat end-to-end test) system has been designed to overcome this “BIT gap” by using advanced synthetic instrument technology to inject threat signals into the system to simulate real-world threats.
DRS, which is based in Arlington, Virginia, has also devised the ATS-100 hand-held stimulator system that can be used for testing radar warning and electro-optic missile warning systems.