Have you ever heard of a Black Box in an aeroplane — the most crucial part of an aeroplane. When a plane crash is suspected, a black box is one of the first things that investigators search for. The black box has two parts — the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder. And both the parts of the black box play a major role in air crash investigation.
The flight data recorder (FDR) contains the history of the flight. It records dozens of parameters and collects several times per second. Talking about the cockpit voice recorder (CVR), it stores the recent history of the sounds in the cockpit, which also includes the conversation between the pilots. Also, the most interest thing is that a black box in an aeroplane is neither black nor it is a box. The black box is actually a cylinder-like mounted on two large pieces of metal and looks more like an air compressor than a tape recorder. And about the colour is orange.
Why Black Box Is Always Reliable
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Not long ago, a debate has been going around about the black box. With flights going missing and crashing, a huge question has come into the light — should the black box data be stored in the cloud? In this technologically advanced era, where big data and cloud storage is doing wonders, the aviation industry is still relying on a device that holds critical data and can go down with the plane?
On 1 June 2009, Air France Flight 447, an Airbus A380 crashed into the Atlantic Ocean, killing 228 people. the disappearance of Air France Flight 447 over the mid-Atlantic for more than two years is one of aviation’s great mysteries. The wreckage and flight-data recorders lost beneath 2 miles of ocean and searchers spent two years hunting down the black box device.
This incident triggered one more reason to opt for cloud storage rather than sticking to the traditional black box. But before jumping right into the point of taking a shift to the cloud. Let us have a look at how strong a black box is.
Black boxes are insulated and armoured and are designed in such a way that it can withstand 1,110C fires, several hours of 260C heat, piercings, exposure to salt water, 6,096mtr sea pressures, impacts approaching 270 knots (500 kph) and forces reaching 3,400 g’s. Now one can actually imagine, even after many mishaps, why Black Box is still considered reliable.
Why Flight Data Should Stay In The Flight
The idea of transmission of flight data is not something new. NASA is already using the system to transmit flight and voice data. However, this concept is still not implemented when it comes to commercial flight. Why? Because it sounds pretty easy that the data can be transmitted but if we look closely then a lot of factors are there that doesn’t make this idea a great one.
Flights can transmit data and link to satellites using top-mounted antennas, however, the bandwidth might be a concern because it is expensive, and it would require different, high-end software and hardware to switch between towers and satellites. Also, imagine how many flights fly on a day-to-day basis all across the world. So, would it be that easy to drop the black box and move to cloud storage?
Moreover, technology is not the only concern here. There is something called privacy; why would any pilot let its cockpit conversation accessible to others? Many people don’t know that every black box has an ERASE button that every pilot uses once the flight lands safely. Upon successful landing, the pilots erase the recordings on stored by the recorder box.
Another reason why Black Box is still a good option is that most of the time flight crashes take place only while landing or take-off, so find the black box is not so difficult in that kind of situation.
Given the spate of flight mishaps and the importance of black box for probes, it is easy to put an opinion such as why it is better to transmit the black data to the cloud. And the idea of streaming black box data to the cloud seems like a great one, however, there are a couple of pros and cons. The major con is the cost of implementation for this technology of streaming black box data to the cloud which also includes retrofitting of the required communications equipment. Also, as mentioned above, pilots want their casual conversation to remain confidential and only stored for a limited period of time. In addition to this, authorities across the world are still sceptical about opting for the cloud.
However, if we see this scenario from another angle then the disadvantages outweigh the benefits, especially when it comes to passenger safety. So, it is high time that required steps should be taken, keeping passenger safety at the top of the priority list and stream black box data to the cloud.