What is a Flight Data Recorder?
Designed to record various electronic instructions sent between an aircraft and its parts, flight data recorders (FDR), commonly referred to as ‘black boxes,’ are capable of retaining data received from various areas of an aircraft. Typically coupled with a cockpit voice recorder (CVR), flight data recorders and their combined components are vital tools for investigating any incidents or accidents that have occured to or on a particular aircraft. Painted a vibrant orange color for ease of identification, flight data recorders and their implementation in aircraft are necessary for obtaining valuable insight on how an aviation accident or incident occurred.
First developed and implemented in the 1950s, original FDR systems used metal foil as a recording medium, upgrading to units with increased data storage in the 1970s. Pioneered by Australia after the 1960 crash of Trans Airlines Flight 538, cockpit-voice recordings soon became compulsory around the world. Passing the first CVR ruling in 1964 within the U.S., all turbine and piston-powered aircraft were not mandated to update their equipment until 1967. With the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requiring all commercial airlines to record at least 11 to 29 parameters in relation to a vehicle's size, various FDR systems were then constructed with flight data acquisitions units (FDAU) to process and record increased FDR data. Later mandated by the FAA in the late 1980s due to recent advancements in technology, most FDRs were required to implement digital recordings. To avoid complications between equipment in a range of aircraft, older model aircraft were subsequently permitted to implement second-generation magnetic tape recorders in place of digital recorders.
Utilizing solid state technology, a compiled system of memory chips, modernised FDRs have developed to minimize internal equipment malfunctions through their lack of moving parts. As such, most present-day FDR systems can track the following details: time, approximate location, pressure altitude, airspeed, vertical acceleration, magnetic heading, control-column positions, rudder-predisposition, control wheel position, horizontal stabilizer, fuel flow, and much more. Routinely installed in parts of an aircraft most likely to survive during a crash, these systems help to provide critical information in the event of any incident. These details can determine whether the incident in question had derived from part malfunction, an aircraft system error, pilot error, weather/external forces, or various other undetermined reasons if upheld to the current TSO C123a (CVR) and C124a (DFDR) survivability standards.
In the event of a potentially fatal accident, it is imperative to know what caused the event to carry out. After decades of accumulated research and acquired FDRs following today's International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) provisions, the proposed requirements we see for aircraft today have all been influenced by these recorded events. As accidents can occur due to a number of causes, to prevent a potentially avoidable situation, one should always lean towards the side of caution and perform all necessary routine inspections and maintenance procedures. In the unlikely event of an accident, an FDR should always remain in working condition for future investigation.
At Purchasing Efficiency, we have the parts you need to fit your unique component applications. As a dependable distributor of aviation necessities, we invite you to browse our inventory for numerous DFDR, FDAU, CSMU, quick access recorders, aircraft sensors, NSN parts, IT parts, and other aircraft items. Due to our quality control and export compliance, we operate with AS9120B, ISO 9001:2015, and FAA AC 00-56B certification and accreditation. If you would like to request a quote for your comparisons, you can submit an RFQ form as provided on our website. Upon receipt, a dedicated account manager will quickly review and respond with a personalized solution to your needs in just 15 minutes or less, 24/7x365.