How Adding Connectivity to the Black Box Will Make Flights Safer

    Whenever there’s an aircraft accident, the term “black box” typically gets mentioned in the news. That’s because of the pivotal role it plays in finding out what happened.

    For more than 60 years, investigators have used black boxes — which are really orange to make them easier to find among flight wreckage — to determine what caused an airplane accident. They use information from the Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder to reach their conclusions, which is why all commercial aircraft are equipped with both of these black boxes.

    In the past, that data was only available after a crash and when the physical box was found.

    Now, we’re developing the Honeywell Connected Recorder (HCR-25) a.k.a. the black box in the sky." It earns its nickname because it will let airlines access flight data and cockpit voice recordings during flight. The recorder uses a secure, cloud-based satellite link to send data from the aircraft to a data center using Honeywell’s connected software. There it can be analyzed and maintained.

    Here’s how the newest black box features will make flights safer:

    Faster access to data: 

    If an incident occurs, flight data can be quickly accessed by the airlines and investigators in real time. Key information will be available even before the black box is found. Investigators will be able to locate the site almost immediately and will have faster access to information that will help them understand events leading up to the accident. 
    The new recorder will let airlines access flight data and cockpit voice recordings, even when the aircraft is in flight. It uses a secure satellite communications system connection that provides a 24/7 link between the aircraft and a data center on the ground.

    More efficient operations, maintenance: 

    The connected recorder collects data on thousands of variables including fuel levels, altitude, engine performance, temperature, direction and speed, which operators can use to improve operational and maintenance efficiency.

    Meet new safety standards: 

    The new black box represents a game-changing leap forward in this critical technology. It will include several breakthrough innovations and will meet the new European Aviation Safety Agency cockpit voice recording mandate, which takes effect in 2021 and requires a 25-hour voice recording capability.

    The “black box in the sky” will make critical information – including cockpit voice recordings and flight information – available so investigators can begin their analysis almost immediately.