PDA

View Full Version : ICAO orders real-time aircraft tracking in wake of MH370


Mark in CA
10th Mar 2016, 09:32
The amendments to the Chicago Convention, which lays down a bunch of aircraft, airspace, and airport rules for almost every member of the United Nations, are all within Annex 6 (the section that deals with the "operation of aircraft"). The three most significant tweaks are:

* Aircraft must carry "autonomous distress tracking devices" that can "transmit location information at least once every minute in distress circumstances."

* The cockpit voice recorder (CVR) must be able to store at least 25 hours of recording, "so that they cover all phases of flight for all types of operations."

* Aircraft must be "equipped with a means to have flight recorder data recovered and made available in a timely manner."

UN aviation body orders real-time aircraft tracking in wake of MH370 | Ars Technica (http://arstechnica.com/business/2016/03/mh370-un-aviation-body-decrees-real-time-airplane-tracking/)

log0008
10th Mar 2016, 09:37
Nice to see the increase on the time for the CVR, also does anyone know if it is possible to make the ping from the boxes stronger and have larger battery?

Wellfan
10th Mar 2016, 09:49
Lowering the frequency will increase the penetration in air or water and allow it to be detected further. If I recall correctly the ones in use are using 37.5 kHz?

The good thing about generating a lower frequency is it takes less power to do so which will in theory increase the battery life

Rwy in Sight
10th Mar 2016, 10:37
On the wake of MH370, I remember a comment about the frequency about being as low as possible since a lot of underwater life emits sounds below 37.5. Not sure if its true or accurate.

G0ULI
10th Mar 2016, 10:45
Alternatively, select a pinger frequency that is attractive to whales or some other aquatic life and look for a concentration of the creatures in a search area. Might not be a good idea to attract sharks though.

PDR1
10th Mar 2016, 10:47
"transmit location information at least once every minute in distress circumstances."

Unless I'm missing something this would not have helped in the MH370 scenario. The "distress circumstances" would either have to be based on some analysis of aircraft systems data or be crew-selected. From what we know of the MH370 case the aircraft systems would not have seen anything that looked like a "distress circumstance" unless the aeroplane actually ran out of fuel, and in the case of a deliberate "suicide" action the pilot would be unlikely to switch it on. It might help in a hijack scenario, but hijackers would probably soon learn how the system is switched off.

I suppose you could make it possible for the cabin crew to switch it on, but that would open other cans of worms IMHO.

As far as I can see it would only be of value where the pinger (for the sake of argument) is permanently on, but I suspect the reason for only having it on in "distress circumstances" is a recognition that humanity does not have the satcoms bandwidth available to process full-time pinging from all air traffic.

So I see this as a political salve to public concerns rather than a real technical measure to address the issue.

0.03 supplied, YMMV,

PDR

pax britanica
10th Mar 2016, 13:18
Distressed circumstances ?? what does that actually mean-well AF 447 would I am sure qualify but as has been pointed out MH370 could have had a flight profile that looked completely normal- cruise altitude, controlled descent etc just it was a controlled descent to the bottom of the sea . I would have thought that the right idea would be to ping a flight number altitude heading message -very very very short every 15-30 mins 'when operating over oceanic routes. ie wouldn;t be fitted to BA Airbus 32X or Ryanair 738s which operate entirely overland or heavily trafficked over water routes. i think technology has reached the stage that we could find something ditched in the channel without too many clues.

if you take out all those kind of routes, intra europe and US domestic then how much traffic do you really have left to monitor -not that many flights really so I think the computing and telecomms capability could cope pretty easily especially if the data over writes after say three hours .

kwh
10th Mar 2016, 13:36
One theory about MH370 is that the reason the transponder stopped transmitting was because one of the crew was interrupted by events while resetting it and lost consciousness before they ever got to finish what they were doing. Does this suggest that a big red glowing 'Panic' button in the middle of the overhead panel might be a good idea so that if it all suddenly goes wrong you take a tenth of a second to punch that before dealing with the emergency and get a set of default actions, perhaps a generic squawk for 'fast developing crisis' plus all the communications options turned on, maybe the satellite upload of the 30 seconds of CVR before the button was hit and the one minute after... then the crew can come back and adjust the settings manually as they normally might when time permits and if they are still able...

Mark in CA
10th Mar 2016, 14:51
Distressed circumstances -- I had wondered about this, too. but also wondered if the other requirement -- Aircraft must be "equipped with a means to have flight recorder data recovered and made available in a timely manner." -- kind of offsets these issues. But this is kind of ambiguous, too. Would it mean perhaps something like a pod containing the flight data ejected from the aircraft from underwater (in the case of MH370)? Perhaps then transmitting the data to a satellite? Lots of questions.

Fly4Business
10th Mar 2016, 14:57
If I remember correctly, one of the major issues with MH370 was Malaysian not enabling the online connection due to costs, so only the Ping was left of the connection? Does this mean this is no longer allowed?

MG23
10th Mar 2016, 15:57
MH370 was perfectly capable of sending ACARS traffic by satellite. It just stopped doing so after it vanished. That's why the pings and the telephone call setup messages were the only signals received that way.

As for 'distressed circumstances', you could probably have a very simple system that could be turned on by a satellite message from the ground if contact is lost. It shouldn't have to be any more complex than the systems already used to track shipping containers and trucks.

Of course, it doesn't help if someone pulls the circuit-breaker.

Ian W
10th Mar 2016, 16:07
PDR1
Unless I'm missing something this would not have helped in the MH370 scenario. The "distress circumstances" would either have to be based on some analysis of aircraft systems data or be crew-selected. From what we know of the MH370 case the aircraft systems would not have seen anything that looked like a "distress circumstance" unless the aeroplane actually ran out of fuel, and in the case of a deliberate "suicide" action the pilot would be unlikely to switch it on. It might help in a hijack scenario, but hijackers would probably soon learn how the system is switched off.

If mandatory cooperative surveillance systems such as SSR or ADS-B are both switched off while the aircraft is airborne it could be counted as 'distress circumstances'. Certainly, excessive cabin altitude would also be a distress circumstance. The system would then autonomously start transmitting position and if bandwidth permitted CVR/FDR without input from the crew and regardless of input from 'the crew'/hijackers.

RIGHTSEATKC135
10th Mar 2016, 17:01
What about transmission of "artifact" information from the ARINC-429 Databus? If done in "packet form", the acquisition and transmission of such data would be fairly simple, and difficult to defeat/impede.

Vinnie Boombatz
10th Mar 2016, 22:45
@Rwy in Sight:

Good memory.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underwater_acoustics

"Distant ship traffic is one of the dominant noise sources in most areas for frequencies of around 100 Hz, while wind-induced surface noise is the main source between 1 kHz and 30 kHz."

Fig. 2 in this paper shows a noise minimum around 40 kHz:

https://stuff.mit.edu/people/millitsa/resources/pdfs/chmj-print.pdf

Good article on underwater beacon search:

Deep-water Black-box Retrieval (http://www.hydro-international.com/content/article/deep-water-black-box-retrieval)

No explanation of frequency specification here, but some history:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underwater_locator_beacon

Derfred
11th Mar 2016, 01:29
...humanity does not have the satcoms bandwidth available to process full-time pinging from all air traffic.

What century are you living in? We have thousands of jets flying around offering broadband internet for passengers to watch Netflix!

Humanity's satcom network wouldn't even blink at a short transmission from every aircraft once per minute. And it only needs to be satcom for aircraft outside of surveillance coverage, which means probably less than 10% of the world's airborne fleet at any one time.

For a hundred or so dollars a year, I can put a $200 device on my car dashboard that transmits every 10 minutes. One of these devices on MH370 would have located it immediately. And you think we don't have the bandwidth?

Hasn't one provider already offered the service for free?

Malaysian chose not to spend the money for a service that already existed on their aircraft. ICAO is now saying "you don't get to opt out", and by their use of the word "autonomously", I'm guessing the pilots don't get to turn it off either.

auv-ee
11th Mar 2016, 03:53
Vinnie Boombatz:

This topic has been covered before in the AF447 threads and, if I recall, in the MH370 threads:

http://www.pprune.org/tech-log/395105-af-447-search-resume-48.html#post5683946

While it is true that there is a noise minima in the deep ocean in the 40KHz band, that is not especially relevant to maximizing detection range. For long ranges, the attenuation at 37kHz is a far more severe limitation than the background noise (and is part of the reason why there is less noise in that band). While the choice of 37kHz for pinger locators was made many decades ago, I expect that the choice was based on the smaller size/weight compared with a low frequency device, and the fact that the short range is adequate for the more common near-shore accidents.

For deep water work we commonly use transmitters in the 7-15kHz band, yielding ranges beyond 10km; 20-30kHz can yield 3-5km; and 40kHz 2-3km. These are not necessarily comparing equal sound pressure level, equal energy/ping, or any other "normalized" comparison, but are ranges practically obtained by traditional oceanographic systems. In this case, typical transmit levels in the 7-15kHz band are 200-210db re 1uPa @ 1m, and the typical aircraft pinger locators transmit at 160db re 1uPa @ 1m.

The problem with low frequency pingers is that they are significantly larger and heavier. A typical 7-15kHz transducer is 7-10cm in diameter and length, compared to less than 2cm for the 37kHz pingers. Certainly a lower frequency pinger or transponder could be carried by an aircraft, but everyone hates to add a kilogram of mass without reason. Also, the 37kHz pinger, being smaller, is much easier to design for shock resistance; that design has been highly optimized over the years. Shock protecting the larger, ceramic transducers might present an issue.

As also noted before, the use of transponders, rather than pingers, would extend the battery life. A transponder does not transmit unless it first receives an interrogation. Thus it only needs to operate its receiver until someone arrives to search, and it can then start transmitting (then also providing range via travel time). It is also possible to further save power by only listening intermittently until an interrogation is heard, and then to listen continuously for a while. All these extra features were complicated decades ago, but are now trivial to implement.

4Greens
11th Mar 2016, 07:58
Automatic position reporting at short intervals is the only answer. The technology is already available. ADSB Out comes to mind.

Ian W
11th Mar 2016, 12:24
ADS is mandatory in an increasing number of areas. Iridium Next satellite constellation will be carrying the Aireon hosted payload that will pick up ADS-B transmissions worldwide, the problem being discrimination of signals from the densely flown areas.
A more sensible system would be designed and built for tracking and perhaps like satcom have a time slice for each aircraft to transmit. If the transmission is only required once every 5 minutes and only takes a few milliseconds the bandwidth could allow static allocation of a timeslice to each airframe

TypeIV
11th Mar 2016, 14:11
How about honest politicians instead? Problem solved.

Wrist Watch
11th Mar 2016, 17:01
Interested to see how are they going to record and store high-quality audio of 25 h when there are still buses flying around with 4.6 MB memory slots running partial nav databases

Dan Winterland
11th Mar 2016, 17:06
Devices already exist. These have been used by yachts for several years now.

SPOT International Landing Page (http://www.findmespot.com/international/#)

Joe_K
11th Mar 2016, 18:10
Interested to see how are they going to record and store high-quality audio of 25 h iPod nano? :-) One would need about 1.5 GB of memory using bog standard MP3 @128kpbs, which should be trivial in this day and age. Before anyone asks, it's around 15GB using uncompressed PCM @44.1kHz/16bit (Audio CD quality). My mobile phone has more memory.

PersonFromPorlock
12th Mar 2016, 19:53
A possibly loony suggestion: how about a last-ditch submerged signaller consisting of a large block of metallic sodium sealed in a crush-proof container and venting through a tuned pipe. After a month or so submerged, the seal across the vent dissolves, water makes contact with the sodium, and instant LOUD steam whistle results.

Band a Lot
13th Mar 2016, 04:37
A series of ground/sea(moored) base collector stations could down load data automatically from overflying aircraft in remote or any area. This would be in the end, far cheaper than satellite based operations.

A very large amount of data could be sored for say 1-3 months, then rewritten over.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Frequency_Data_Link


Global Coverage

Today, HFDL is an air/ground data link standard with coverage in virtually every corner of the globe, approximately 168,000,000 square miles (440,000,000 km2) where aircraft are never out of touch both in the air and on the ground.
Evolving Technology

The HFDL network and avionics (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avionics) are a continuing evolution. Recent innovations in avionics software developed by both Honeywell (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honeywell) and Collins (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rockwell_Collins) have enhanced performance and contribute to the service’s outstanding message success rates. There is continued investment in the HFDL infrastructure and there is a long term strategy in place to ensure its success.
ARINC (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ARINC) have been quoted as saying that the system and its use have grown at rates above 20% for each of the past ten years and it now supports over sixty airlines with well over 1,200 aircraft sending more than 1 million messages a month. In 2009 eight new operating frequencies were added which brings the total number of frequencies to 167 worldwide.

Skyjob
14th Mar 2016, 11:46
Simple low-cost solutions could be easily created, but probably take time to get authorised and integrated.
There are millions of devices out there that can store many GB's of data and are freely available. Most are of such capacity and capability to be very small and strong enough to withstand most crash scenarios.
Encase any (two) such devices in modern airliners and located them in opposites end of the frame.
Continuous recording loops can be used for days not hours of operation and minimal wiring will be required to do so, thus reducing the weight penalty. Some of these devices already have their own GPS so don't need to rely on heavy aircraft systems integration.
Transmissions of these devices can be made autonomous depending on capability of other hardware installed, using phone signal to SatCom as required, VHF or HF as installed...