What if the flight black boxes start sharing their data with the cloud?

Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 went missing from its route on March 8th, 2014 and all of the 300 passengers who were on board are now claimed to be dead. Even after a rigorous search for the plane and the on-board passengers till date (after 4 months) nothing constructive could be concluded on this issue. In the year 2009, Air France Flight 447 was reported to have crashed into the Atlantic Ocean killing 228 people. Even this flight’s were-abouts or atleast the debris of it couldn’t be traced till date.

Usually, every plane is equipped with a black box, where the entire critical data is recorded in two ways. One the cockpit voice recorder stores sound from the crew’s microphones and earphones. It is from the area recorders mounted on the cockpits roof, the data is transmitted to the Black Box located in the cockpit. Apart from this data, the black box also keeps the track aircrafts performance based on the data fed to it from all over the plane. This includes every few seconds update of the flight status based on 88 different factors like heading, fuel status, altitude, airspeed, vertical accelerations, throttle, and flight control positions, wing flap movement and so on. The fact is that these black boxes can survive in up to 12,000 feet under water and can keep data intact in extreme harsh conditions. That means, they can keep their internal components intact even in exposure to extreme hot conditions.

Some commercial airlines also record the data from the crew of the cabin, passengers entering the plane, their behavior in the plane and the flight attendants behavior on the plane with respect to the airlines passengers. Nowadays, even a video & audio evidence of all that is happening in the flight, right from the beginning of the journey to the end is being made mandatory.

Subsequently, if so much data is being fed to the black box, then finding it out in the above said flight crash cases becomes more critical. It can help the airlines people to know what happened before the accident and how did it take place. Moreover, the black box operations are always redundant. That means, if it departs from the flight, it can still keep the data in accessible condition with the help of the battery it possesses in its chassis.

So, when the data in these black boxes can prove extremely vital, then why not protect it with extreme redundancy?

One of the best proven ways is to link the black box data to a cloud storage platform. To protect the security & integrity of the data, it must be linked to a private cloud. But transmitting the data from a moving plane can not be so easy. Therefore, connecting the black box data exclusively to a satellite and syncing the recorded data with the satellite’s IP storage platform can be a wise move, provided a transmitting technology well capable of doing so is available with us.

Oliver McGee, a former scientific adviser and deputy transportation secretary to Bill Clinton has already asked the Aviation Industry to take up such steps as soon as possible. He has already asked the US President Barack Obama to look into this aspect and to advice IATA heads to start implementing such solutions as early as possible.

In the month of August 2014, a decision will be taken by the federal government and then the International Air Transport Association will be informed on this issue. If all the countries accept this proposal, then pretty soon, the technology to sync all in-flight black boxes to an IP storage platform located in a satellite will be taken up.

May be by June 2015, we can see this practice made mandatory by the aviation industry for all airlines. And if this practice turns into a reality, then it can solve many future mysteries in a simple way… isn’t it?

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