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The Black Box - Built to Survive | Tuesday, April 8, 2014| Gulf News A20 MH370 MYSTERY THE BLACK BOX Why is the device called black box if it's painted bright orange? BUILT TO SURVIVE This is the most common question and the answer is simple. The device must be easily traceable in the aftermath of a plane crash. Aside the chassis colour, these devices are also pasted with strips of reflective tape which are very helpful in locating them when a plane lands over water. Black boxes are devices that record conversation of pilots and log flight data. This extremely valuable data could explain the disappearance of Malaysian Flight MH370. Let's take a look at how the black boxes work. There are several possible origins for the term "black box". Some people believe it is simply because the early devices were painted black, while others postulate that it refers to the charring on the device that occurs in post-accident fires. Brief history 1939. One of the earliest attempts to record flight data was using "Type HB" by François Hussenot and Paul Beaudouin in France, with a photograph-based device. A scrolling eight metres long by 88 milimetres wide film was used to record the data. 1956. The first prototype was produced by an Australian scientist, Dr. David Warren, when he was involved in the investigation surrounding the mysterious crash of the world's first jet-powered commercial aircraft, The Comet. 1961. Aeronautical engineer Edmund A. Boniface, Jr. invented the "Cockpit Sound Recorder". It could record/erase a 30-minute loop with all the voices and sounds in the cockpit area. 2014. In response to the missing Flight MH370, US Congressman David Price has re-introduced for the third time, the idea ofa “Deployable Recorder" in commercial airlines. These black boxes – which have been used in Navy planes for two decades – are ejected from the plane before it crashes in water and float, making them easier to find. 1930 1940 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 During the WWII, (1939-1945). Len Harrison and Vic Husband developed a unit that could withstand a crash and fire, keeping the flight data intact. This unit used copper foil as the recording medium. 1960. After an unexplained plane crash in Queensland, Australia became the first country in the world to make the black boxes 1990s. The airlines moved to solid-state memory boards, which use stacked arrays of memory chips to handle and store more data. It had no moving parts and had less maintenance issues. The future? The implementation of the Deployable Recorder technology in a commercial plane. It costs about $60,000, but the two-year search for the Air France Flight 447's black box devices cost $40- $50million. mandatory for all commercial aircraft. The modern black box Anatomy of a recording device A black box is in fact two pieces of separate equipment: the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and the Flight Data Recorder (FDR). Both pieces are mandatory for any commercial aeroplane or corporate jet. CHASSIS *CSMU elements *Crash Survivable Memory Unit Built in aluminium, this case contains the elements that process all the flight information received and stores it in a This unit is the heart of the black box and it is built to survive and Flash memory inside the Crash Survivable Memory Unit (CSMU). protect a valuable Flash memory with the information and voice FLIGHT RECORDER DO NOT OPEN Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) recordings during the flight. The cockpit contains several microphones to track the conversations of the flight crew as well as the ambient noises like possible malfunctions in the aircraft. All the audio is sent to the CVR which has a maximum storage for two hours of data. After reaching that limit it starts to record again over the previous material. 1 Power supply access cover SOLID STATE MEMORY COCKPIT VOICE RECORDER S SER CVR 120-05023 000000000 SA OMF 1220022 MER 978A74 8 Stainless steel or titanium casing Can withstand an impact of 3,400 times its own weight CHASSIS 2 Power supply Secondary power source to keep the flow of data in case of energy failure 0000000000 03 Sold Sue Figh DE STATUS oproved and ED an ANC 75 oresceeds industry crash urvibity reguirements A compliant UU that meets 3 Connection to aircraft CSMU 9 Insulation block OU FLIGHT RECORDER DO NOT OPEN 4 Interface and Control circuit Board (ICB) Handles thousands of fllght parameters received from the Data Acquisition Unit in the cockpit 10 Thermal block Protection for up to 1,100 degrees Celcius 11 20cm 11 Flash Memory 5 *PCMCIA interface board *High-capacity PC Card DER BEACON 6 PCMVCIA card Quick access flight data storage 32cm Note: OPEN The recorder models are based Flight Data Recorder (FDR) 7 Portable Interface (PI) plug Allows the connection of a Pl unit for information retrieval on the widely used models supplied by Honeywell This device receives a stream of operative information from sensors in several areas of the plane. Parameters like airspeed, altitude, engine power, fuel flow, time and direction of the plane are constantly recorded in the FDR, which can store 25 hours of data. The modern devices are able to constantly monitor thousands of valuable parameters for air crash investigators. 12 *ULB elements *Underwater Locator Beacon This device can transmit from a depth of 6,000m an acoustic signal every second after being activated by its water-sensitive switch. The signal emitted is crucial for locating the black box over the next 30 days after the crash (the beacon's battery life). In the case of Malaysia Flight MH370 the beacon could possibly stop working tomorrow, April 9. (13 4 15 FLIGHT RECORDER DO NOT OPEN 12 Aluminium casing Can stand high-G impacts. Contains electronic devices to 13 Lithium battery 14 Seal ring 49.7cm produce the signal. 15 Cap/Water switch Pin drop It is a test for the unit penetration resistance, dropping a weight (227kg) with a 6mm steel Located in the 'safest’ place Survival •I............O tests sas................. The black box unit Fluid immersion The black boxes are always located in the tail of the plane to improve the chances of surviving the crash, mainly because it is the last part of the aircraft to impact. pin protruding from the bottom against the CSMU from a models in the market Various CSMU have passed a series of extreme tests Crash impact The unit is fired from an air cannon components are placed into a variety | height of 3m. of aviation fluids, including jet fuel, designed to simulate real-life crash Static crush For five minutes, Salt-water submersion to an aluminum Deep-sea submersion Fire test The unit is placed between 3 propane burners to be exposed into a pressurised to a temperature of 1,100 degrees celcius for one hour. Associated Control Unit Provides the honeycomb target to create an impact of 3,400 its own The CSMU must survive in a saltwater lubricants and tank for 30 days. Aircraft data flow 226 kilograms per square-inch of force crush each of the situations. The CSMU is placed In all the controlled situations the Crash Survivable fire-extinguisher chemicals. Data weight. Acquisition Unit pre-amplification for the audio going to the CVR unit's six major axis points. tank of salt water for 24 hours. Memory Unit (CSMU) must survive with the Flash memory inside intact. 227kg Microphones Pilot's headset X3- Engine power- LPin Wing Flap- position Co-pilot's headset 3rd crew member FLIGHT RECORDER DO NOT OPEN FLIGHT RECORDER DO NOT OPEN RECORDER DO NOT OPEN FLIGHT RECORDER DO NOT OPEN FLIGHT FLIGHT RECORDER DO NOT OPEN RECORDER DO NOT OPEN Near the centre of the cockpit. Detects audio alerts and other sounds The test drawings are not in real proportions - Aileron position Retrieving information When black boxes are found, they are transported carefully to the investigating labs. In the case of a water accident, the recorders are placed in water to prevent them from drying out until they can be properly handled. The investigators use diverse pieces of hardware like the PI (Portable Interphase), to retrieve and process the audio and data from the Computer generated recreations The data stored on the recorders help air crash Investigators generate computer video reconstructions of the flight behaviour or the enviroment inside the aircraft and determine the possible causes of the crash. Flight Data Recorder (FDR) - Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) 09: 15: 42 NTSB RUDDER: PEDAL TAIL SECTION 2009 FT 241 KTS SURFACE The position of the devices and sensors is illustrative rescued recording devices. LATERAL ACCEL Sources: Honeywell ED-55 Flight Data Recording System/Solid-State Voice/Data & Digital Communications Combined Recording Systems, National Geographic, CBS NEWS, Boeing, L-3 Communications, Seacom Dukaine, Reuters, Graphic News Hugo A. Sanchez/©Gulf News From 3m height

The Black Box - Built to Survive

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Black boxes are devices that record conversation of pilots and log flight data. This extremely valuable information could explain the disappearance of Malaysian Flight MH370. Let’s take a look at ho...


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