Skip to comments.Missing Malaysia Jet Adds Fuel to 'Live Black Box' Debate
Posted on 03/09/2014 12:15:25 PM PDT by maggief
Discussed for many years but never implemented, the concept of automatically transmitting data would involve using satellite links to send critical safety information from an airliner to the ground during extreme emergencies or just before a plane goes down.
The information may highlight, among other things, engine and system performance, flight commands by pilots and possible problems with cockpit automation.
The direct transmissions would serve as real-time substitutes when traditional "black boxes" containing digital flight data and recordings of cockpit conversations are damaged or lost, whether temporarily or permanently.
"Such a solution is long overdue, considering the state of technology today and the overriding importance of providing timely data to investigators," said Alan Diehl, a former senior commercial-accident investigator and U.S. military safety official. "We can no longer leave it to the vagaries of finding black boxes in every crash."
As aircraft increasingly connect to satellite and ground-based systems to provide Wi-Fi access to ticket holders, such a pipeline could enable safety data to piggyback on signals intended for passenger use, industry officials say.
(Excerpt) Read more at online.wsj.com ...
Have no idea what happened to this airliner - but it is always possible that it landed without exploding- in a sparsely populated area; not in the ocean.
Perhaps on a desert with no cell towers;) Or the flight crew could have confiscated all electronics.
“but it is always possible that it landed without exploding- in a sparsely populated area; not in the ocean.”
A landing requires roughly 8,000 feet of runway. Plus there are likely five or more radios on board, not to mention cell phones if they’re in range of a tower. It’s very unlikely to have landed unless it was hijacked to, say, North Korea. If that were the case, probably the various intelligence agencies monitoring NK would know already as NK is probably under continuous surveillance by one or more countries.
Undoubtedly, most western nations have turned on their satellite cameras as they passed the area in an effort to garner clues. The automatic picture review would spot something that size if it were not there yesterday and flag it. No, most likely, it went down in the water. It could have gone down in dense jungle and also completely disappear, provided it did not burn.
I am going with the pilot going to the can and the 27 year old co-pilot turning the plane nose down and plunging it into the ocean.
Have they determined if the oil slick is fuel dumped from the Malaysia Jet? That would indicate the pilots knew they were in trouble & planning a hard landing (or a skilled Sully) - but to not report a problem is very strange. Too many abnormal circumstances to be considered a ‘routine’ accident.
I don’t know about the slick. But a simple chemical test should tell whether it’s from a plane or a ship. But, assuming they weren’t hijacked, it’s unlikely they made a leisurely water landing without notifying anybody. My guess is they went in fast and at a sharp angle. That might explain why they didn’t have time to radio their condition.
Evidently exploded in midair, with insufficient large pieces remaining to track reliably.
Guess they forgot to stir the fuel tanks.
Those who hijacked the plane and plunged it into the ocean are now spending eternity with virgin goats.
“Or the flight crew could have confiscated all electronics.”
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Communicate with your loved ones or collogues via calls or text messages by using your seat entertainment controller that works like an air-to-ground phone so that you can easily send or receive mails even in the sky.
Some a/c do have onboard telematics that report in real-time. Obviously this one did not.
If that were the case, it would have been a very rough landing, which would in all likelihood have activated the one-or-more Emergency Locator Beacons onboard.
Either that or a bomb.
It’s like....the Bermuda Triangle...man.
****As aircraft increasingly connect to satellite and ground-based systems to provide Wi-Fi access to ticket holders, such a pipeline could enable safety data to piggyback on signals intended for passenger use, industry officials say.*****
Seems as if the infrastructure is already in place. Which does beg the question: Were the passengers aware of the crisis? - apparently they did not use their satellite phones either.
Hmm. Not sure it’s really necessary. They’re talking about live transmission of all the telemetry data. Seems like an unnecessary complication of a system that’s still working quite well. It’s not like there’s a big problem with recovery of black boxes. They are almost always found, and soon enough to be useful. Now there would have to be an additional powerful transmitter sucking amps from the plane, and somewhere somebody would have to be listening and recording all this stuff. Then there would have to be redundant systems to back that all up in case of failure.
I’m not sure investigators really gain much for all that.
OK, we’ve gotten off into rabbit holes.
I think a live black box would be an excellent idea, and I’m actually surprised that this hasn’t been proposed before.
Not that well. When Air France 441 went down off the Latin American coast, nobody had any idea of what had happened to it.
The A-330 that went into the ocean was transmitting data. Airplanes have two black boxes that are actually orange. A CVR, cockpit voice recorder and a FDR, flight data recorder. That both have pingers for locating. FDR’s are sometimes pulled after an incident, like a tailstrike or an airplane that departs the runway. The more modern the aircraft, the more data captured. This data is also downlinked via ACARS periodically throughout the flight on 777’s and 330’s. ACARS sends info over one of the VHF radios.
Well, it was AF447, not AF441.
And they were pretty sure what had happened right away.
It seems as though few on this forum are aware of ACARS, and it's capabilities.
First of all, this system would only need to save data for no more than 24 hours, and we're talking about two totally distinct and separate sets of data : Engine and flight parameters, and position/speed/bearing data.
The former can be complex, comprehensive and is useful to determine the cause of the accident after the fact. The latter is a much simpler set of data used exclusively to locate the aircraft, even after breakup, if the recording medium and its power source is an integrated unit, and well protected to survive the accident.
No transmission of anything is essential, so long as the system is designed to be ejected and also to resist impacts and in the case of over-water flights, to float.
I scratch my head at the repeated objection to the cost of installing this equipment on all airliners. It is probably cost effective to install on all transoceanic-capable airliners.
After all how much does a search like the ongoing one for Flight MH370 cost? How many aircraft would that amount equip with the locating equipment?
That’s the worst kind. A Bermuda Triangle that moves around the world looking to cause trouble.
It has been <48 hours. Happened in the third world. Waste of money just to have faster info.
US Global Hawk,Predator,Reaper,IMI Heron,French SAGEM family,UK Westland family and the Qinetiq Zephyr. All feature live blackbox recording including video feedback.
For General Aviation, you currently have tracking packages which use the existing satellite phone infrastructure. In places like Alaska, usage of such a system is mandatory. The Iridium satellite people have a package that costs $995 for the unit, plus between $15 to $85 per month depending on usage. Figure for a commercial airliner it would be more like $300/month.
The data doesn't need to be as much as what the black box records. Just GPS position, airspeed, and altitude, transmitted once per minute would be good enough to find the plane, and have some idea of when it got into trouble. Ideally, they would put the unit somewhere it cannot be tampered with while in the air.
Well, they knew it had disappeared, but the location was less than clear and it took them a long time to find any evidence of it.
Everybody knew that the flight had disappeared, as in the current case, but it might have been nice to have had a more immediate real-time communications and recording system. The technology seems to be behind the times.
Adding to what I said in my prior post: all you would need is a PC accepting the data packets from the various planes in the airline, matching them up against the filed flight plan, and issuing an alarm message if the plane position deviated from the flight plan by some pre-set amount, or if its airspeed or altitude dropped below what it should be for the current point in its flight plan.
Either an Egypt Air like scenario where the pilot/copilot put the plane in the drink, or a Pan Am type scenario where a bomb in the cargo area detonates.
Please ping me to aviation and aerospace articles. Thank you.
Or bomb. I think if the copilot was going to 'martyr' himself there would have been a "Allahu Akbar" over the radio.
But radio comm was marginal , so....
Air France 441 was flown into the water because the entire crew was inexperienced with proper handling techniques.
Heh. Don't give them any ideas, though I suspect the Chinese won't be as, um, kind as we are to terrorists.
Boeing directed operators of its various jets to replace Honeywell Emergency Locator Transponders on their aircraft. The models involved included the 777-200. A Honeywell transponder on a 787 owned by Ethiopian Airlines caught fire on the ground in London and heavily damaged the aircraft.link
My point was about the difficulty in finding it, not the reason for its crash.I think we could surely do better real-time flight tracking in this day and age.
It comes to my shop once in a while....can’t find nothin.
If a democrat Senator had been on the plane, we would know its location within 20 minutes.
I think a live black box would be an excellent idea, and Im actually surprised that this hasnt been proposed before.
I agree ,, data processing is dirt cheap now ,, and this would only require a few small servers to store perhaps the last 48 hours of data transmitted for all daily worldwide commercial flights ,, for aircraft that don’t have satellite internet connectivity basic flight data could be transmitted via cell tower small msgs..
“Guess they forgot to stir the fuel tanks.”
Kuala Lumpur, we have a problem.
Those are good points. Merely the ability to precisely locate the position of a crash— Saving the time, expense and effort of an extended search— alone makes it worthwhile.
If they wanted us to know...Dems are funny about these things!
Sort of a crypto-scientific John McCain. :)
As an aircraft dispatcher, I had an ACARS window open at all times on my work desktop. Same principle as sending and receiving texts. I would use it to advise the crew of changing weather, new numbers in the event of a configuration or operational change( losing an AC pack requiring max altitude of 250, meaning new fuel numbers), or junioring a crew(they hate that). There are other versions that connect with maintenance control, providing data..
The maintenance messages that are automatically sent advising of abnormalities would be the ones to be expected in a dire emergency. Air Malaysia says it received none, and that is puzzling.
In the AF447 crash, ACARS messages pretty much laid out the initial problem, the recovery of the black boxes confirmed it, and showed poor airmanship during attempted recovery.