View Full Version : Big brother watching or welcome safety measure????

19th Feb 2004, 02:56
I asked this a while ago on the rotorheads forum (as I am of the egg-whisk school) and got some very good and interesting responses. I thought I would ask this same question on a fixed wing forum as they tend to be used more widely in this area.

I am currently working for a firm that is installing a FDR onto several military trainer aircraft of a new customer.
This flight data will be downloaded every week and the data analysed for engine and airframe stress management purposes and a report sent to the customer every six months, unless there is a problem identified.
This will obviously enable them to rotate aircraft and ensure one aircraft is not being "hammered" to death in aeros whilst another is being used just for circuit training. There will also be monitoring of the engines to pre-empt any problems and hot section inspections etc.
Another aspect of this data analysis will be that "Exceedance monitoring" programs will be run on the data to pick up any unreported stresses, engine or airframe. There will also be the normal use for incidents to help stop any p*ssing contests between pilots, customer and manufacturer should it be unclear as to what exactly happened.
Ive included some examples of what is being recorded and would like viewpoints of the profesional or private pilots as to whether you think it is a welcome safety feature and be glad someone is looking after your interests or do you consider it to be big brother looking over your shoulder??

Pressure Altitude
ILS Deviations
Accelerations (Normal, lateral and longitudinal)
GPS Present Position
Engine parameters
Control Surface Position/Pilot Input
Flap position
Gear position

Would it bother you Ppruners that all this info could be analysed by engineers on a weekly basis and if you were a little heavy on the stick or throttle (or worse), an exceedance flag could be reported back to your employer or CO??

19th Feb 2004, 09:25
installing a FDR onto several military trainer aircraft of a new customer

Hope your costumer is not Portuguese, or else those friday afternoon mil (amateur) aerobats will soon come to a sudden stop!;)

19th Feb 2004, 17:36
I think the answer to your question depends on how your customer management uses this data. They can turn it into an important safety tool (which I think is great), or they can make it a Big Brother system (which may even impair safety). But it's probably not your decision is it?

21st Feb 2004, 21:03
As an outside (mere Pax) I understand that BA use such a system and have been doing so for many years?

It allows all of the monitoring that you suggest and occasionally the identifiaction of where some additional training might be useful. As Phonix said, it all depends. My guess is that the folks who run this will take a while to find the right balance. The only certainty is that it is being installed because someone thinks it will make/save money and improve reliability, service, etc. In the future, I expect that such systems will become standard.

tropical wave
21st Feb 2004, 21:48
I have no problem with the intent of this monitoring system.......HOWEVER.......the pilots must ensure that the info received is not used by management against pilots.If a pilot is not flying the ac within its limits, then call him into the office and discuss it.....extra sim if need be......bottom line, info not used to fire him,make sure this is included in their working agreement.With that said..FIRE AWAY AT ME, i expect it.

Carnage Matey!
24th Feb 2004, 20:47
Sounds a bit like the SESMA system we have in BA, except our system records hundreds of parameters per flight and every flight is routinely monitored! Its actually an excellent system for spotting trends in aircraft and pilot performance, but the key is that the information must be de-identified (is that a word?) so that an individual pilot cannot be identified by management. It must also be used in a non-punitive manner. If you can achieve that then the system is probably a great way to look after the aircraft and spot mis-handling trends before they cause an accident.

24th Feb 2004, 23:53
Our airline (UK Charter) has had it for about 18 months now. The last a/c was modified about 10 months ago. We have some fancy acronym for it that I can't recall now.

The system records everything that the DFDR records (hundreds of parameters) and the info is stored on an OQAR disc. Some of our later a/c have combined DFDAU/QAR recorders from build so no mods required.

It is used for trend monitoring and pilot performance monitoring and as far as I am aware is NOT used in a punitive way, with rules govorning it's use being similar to those for FDR's

25th Feb 2004, 13:37
It could be both,

I am working for an airline, who use the system in a punitive way.
The result is that a lot of crews are so afraid of exceedance that they forget the whole picture. :*

Very bad, safety wise. But some airline have used it for years with great results.

IMHO, the only way to make it a real safety tool, is to make complete anonymous decoding but it is difficult to acheive is small operations.

Caution, these systems are very quickly used for 'political' reason, a few months ago, the chief of sector, complained we had 5 exceedance in one month. Of these, four were false warnings (tow low on glide detected on Localizer approach but with glide path still radiating). The main reason behind the note is that he 'look bad' being the sector with the most exceedances, the fact that it was really a safety problem or not, was not a concern :{