FSF endorses deployable flight data recorders

The highly respected US-based Flight Safety Foundation is expressing its strong support for the use of deployable flight data recorders or triggered flight data transmission in all transport aircraft.
“Deployable Flight Data Recorders have been around for decades and are in use by the military and in many helicopters,” stated FSF president and CEO Jon Beatty. “We have the technological capability and with several high profile events, including Air France 447 and Malaysia 370, there is clearly the need for a better way to retrieve the flight data information immediately following an accident.”
The Foundation believes that a deployable flight data recorder or triggered data transmission should be in addition to the standard cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder already in all transport aircraft.
The deployable flight data recorder should include an emergency locator transmitter as well. “By using GPS technology, there would be no reason that it wouldn’t be found and retrieved very quickly after an accident or incident,” Beatty continued. “This means that analysis of the accident or incident can begin immediately and it can also assist with the location of the wreckage, should that be needed.”
A deployable flight data recorder should automatically eject itself from the aircraft when certain triggering events occur that signal that the aircraft is in an unrecoverable state. Alternatively, the Foundation believes that another option would be for the data to deploy virtually through a triggered transmission.
“From the perspective of safety, our primary mission is to mitigate risk and when it takes an unusually long time to recover a flight data recorder after an accident, it leads to a delay in answering questions,” Beatty stated. “That makes us uncomfortable as safety professionals, especially since the technology exists that would eliminate this threat.”
The International Civil Aviation Organization is considering this idea as one of the options in a proposed amendment to Annex 6 (6.17 – emergency location locator transmitter (ELT)).
A highly placed source tells Air Traffic Management: “This is another voice added to the hopefully growing choir. Rather than meekly following the IATA call for global airline tracking, ICAO should push this idea of deployable flight recorders through its Air Navigation Commission and obtain consensus from its contracting states to include them in its Standards and Recommended Practices in Annex 6 to the Convention on International Civil Aviation.”
The Flight Safety Foundation has published several articles about deployable flight data recorders in August 2009 and in April 2012.
Flight Safety Foundation is an independent, non-profit, international organization engaged in research, education, advocacy and publishing to improve aviation safety. The Foundation’s mission is to be the leading voice of safety for the global aerospace community.

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