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Locator beacons after aircraft disappears.

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Locator beacons after aircraft disappears.

Old 6th Oct 2014, 19:12
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Locator beacons after aircraft disappears.

Is it fair comment to assert that longer battery life on locator beacons might by now have made locating MH 370 and its recording flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder a much easier task?

Assuming that to be the case have there been any moves by the recorder manufacturers or aviation regulators to make this a reality anytime soon? I would hope that in future we never have to wait in excess of 7 months to learn what actually happened. With the sums of money already spent on locating this aircraft plus what is going to be incurred on the latest search investigations, might mean that a fairly simple modification could make location of a disappearing aircraft a relatively simple event?

It may well be that use of satellites to track aircraft on a more continuous basis than presently occurring may be a better, simpler, and more cost-effective process.
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Old 6th Oct 2014, 20:34
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You can assert anything you like, freedom of speech is a wonderful thing.
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Old 6th Oct 2014, 22:24
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Locator beacons after aircraft disappears.

I'd love to devote a good 50kilos of mass to a battery for a locator beacon on my aircraft that flies entirely around European airspace because sometimes those searches in the various valleys can take ages in winter...

But then again a larger battery pack would mean more protection on the device and more mass and pretty soon your entire usable load is taken up by ELT and associated equipment.

Let's face it, if whatever happened to MH370 hadn't happened, then it would never have been lost in the first place. And if the Wrights had designed a Cessna and had formal flight training, they wouldn't have killed a passenger in a crash...need I go on?
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Old 6th Oct 2014, 23:24
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Why can they not take a leaf from the recent [email protected] based data transmission from the moon that nasal tried.
I think it had achieved over that distance the equivalent of an Asdsl 20 mb link.
So in theory, Park a fleet of geostationary satelites in Orbit. Send them up 'liight' have them dock at the station. Followed by a delivery of Storage media of sufficient density that it could hold the data from the any large passenger aircraft.
That would normally be stored on a flight recorder.
In the event that power is lost to a recorder it should have its own backup isolated psu. And. Simply fire a data burst of the last 60.mins tp the orbiting satelite. Complete with GP'S location Altitude Speed Course Heading etc etc.
One could even take it one step further that on the primary flight controls there ought to be fingerprint readers. Do determine who was at the controls.
That ought to be fairly easy if they can squeeze one into an iPhone they could squeeze them. In there.
Of course this method of my suggestion wpuld ve in essence a 'third' black box mounted somewhere at the top of the inside of the vertical stabiliser.
With no method of getting at it from inside the aircraft.
It's other function would be to transmit to ground stations along main air corridors Flight Data as found in the FOR and CVR.
That way if it's doing it in real time all the time.
Should there ever be a situation like this again there would be a much higher chance of finding an aircraft or even spot one suddenly caught in a hijacking for example.
For that something as simple as a button close to the Pilot and Fo to reach for which would transmit sos.
And ditto one for the cabin crew probably in the galley.
Just seems in the modern wireless age why leave the flight recorder on the aircraft as the only source of that data.?.
In IT circles its very bad practice to not have some other form of backup on multiple devices (including printouts) .
So I dont know why the Airline industry can't use that same common sense.
And another line of defence can also be a facial recognition camera that is mounted on front of the Flight Crew. The Crew flying that day should be on a database on the ground and on on board solid state storage.
If the aircraft doesn't see the Flight crew that are assigned to that flight , That boarded the flight.
Then there should be an addition made to the fmc to lock down the flight controls . Have the autopilot take over and basically land at the nearest suitable runway. And transmitting sos.
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Old 6th Oct 2014, 23:33
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We could use the satellites to help us determine the best HF propagation frequencies too

Rob
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Old 7th Oct 2014, 08:41
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Locator beacons after aircraft disappears.

Onyx could even use software that autocorrects sentence structure and grammar. Imagine that. Others might be able to read the rambling then.

In the words of a certain chief engineer: "The more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to stop up the drains."
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Old 7th Oct 2014, 11:19
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I'd love to devote a good 50kilos of mass to a battery
We've got high density-storage, lightweight Lithium-Ion batteries now, you know..... and they've been certified as safe and serviceable for aircraft use..... Oh, wait.....

Anyone wanna buy a big steel box?
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Old 8th Oct 2014, 21:04
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I am amazed that this issue is apparently of such little interest to the aviation community.?
Have I missed the point that the opportunity to rapidly analyse the circumstances of all aircraft accidents/incidents is vital to improve on even the present level of safety or are we content with the existing situation?
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Old 8th Oct 2014, 22:09
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I am amazed that this issue is apparently of such little interest to the aviation community.?
Have I missed the point that the opportunity to rapidly analyse the circumstances of all aircraft accidents/incidents is vital to improve on even the present level of safety or are we content with the existing situation?
You have (in my humble opinion) missed the point of why we have black boxes.

What you are advocating is something that will have little value to aviation safety. It would merely be a device to satisfy "human curiosity". A crash investigation is a complex process, where the black box is just ONE clue as to what went wrong.

Most black boxes (and crashed airliners) are found within hours of a crash. The wreckage will provide as many valuable clues, and in some cases the black box very little! (Check out the cases of 737 rudder hardover as an example of that:
Boeing 737 rudder issues - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ).



For the cases where a complete airliner has gone missing, the probability of learning anything useful, that will enhance safety is quite low anyhow.

Take the example of MH370, if there was a huge safety risk with the 777, most likely the wreckage would have been found around the area where the aircraft disappeared from radar. And not 4-5 hours in the opposite direction as there are indications of. Hence, whatever went down there, is probably a one-of case, that will bring us nothing to learn, if ever discovered. As a pilot, I really don't care why that aircraft disappeared (even if it was a type I was flying). As a human being, I am as curious as anyone.

Take AF447. Nothing in particular was learned from that either. It was know before hand that the pitot tubes of a certain manufacturer occasionally froze over. It is/was a know fact that manual flying skills are eroding. As far as I recall, even before the boxes were recovered, the pitot probes in question were being replaced. Recovering the boxes of AF447 provided merely an "aha!, that was why it went down".

So in terms of improving safety, the money on enhancements of black boxes that you suggests could be much better spent. In the end the airlines are going to pay for it. So, if imposing any extra costs on the (already hard pressed) airlines, the money would be better spent giving all pilot an extra day in the simulator pr. year as an example - or a number of other things.
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Old 8th Oct 2014, 22:43
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There are locator beacons on the aircraft already.
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Old 9th Oct 2014, 21:53
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Agreed, but surely they need to operate for longer time frames than is presently the case?

If we do not learn from historical events then aviation safety (and security) will not improve.
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Old 10th Oct 2014, 06:37
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The ULB's are good for >30 days. This, for the most part, has been 28 days longer than required to find the boxes. Remember, they are designed to aid in the location of the recorders from a known crash site.
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Old 10th Oct 2014, 21:18
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I appreciate that, but my post was intended to establish whether aircraft can be 'tracked' electronically at a greater rate than currently using existing installed equipment, with presumably merely a software tweak?
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