Airbus plans floating black boxes

The new system would eject the flight data recorder from the aircraft
The new system would eject the flight data recorder from the aircraft

Airbus is planning to equip its long-haul aircraft with a new type of floating black box, making them easier to find following a crash at sea.

According to a Channel NewsAsia report, he AFP cited “aviation sources” as saying that the new devices will be automatically ejected from the aircraft and float when coming into contact with water.

They would also be fitted with tracking systems to allow search teams to locate them. Information from the flight data recorder would then allow investigators to find the exact coordinates of the aircraft at the time of the crash, helping with the search for the wreckage.

“The idea is to modify the black boxes so that each one records the flight details and [cockpit] conversations. One would be ejectable, the other not,” one of the source told the news agency.

The technology has already been approved for military aircraft, has not yet been used in civil aircraft. But a recent spate of over-water crashes, including the Air France flight 447 disaster in 2009, the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in March 2014 and, most recently, the loss of AirAsia flight QZ8501, has prompted the call for new technology.

The new black boxes are likely to be installed on Airbus' A350 aircraft
The new black boxes are likely to be installed on Airbus’ A350 aircraft

The floating black boxes are expected to be installed on Airbus’ long-haul A350 and A380 aircraft, which are more often used for transoceanic flights.

Another source told AFP that Airbus has already received permission to deploy the new black boxes.

“At the end of last year Airbus got the green light from EASA (European Air Security Agency) to work on the necessary modifications to its planes in order to install these new black boxes in the rear of the planes,” the unnamed source was quoted saying.

Every passenger aircraft comes equipped with two black boxes – the flight data recorder, which details the aircraft’s technical readings, and the cockpit voice recorder, which reveals the pilots’ conversations. The two devices are often crucial in discovering the cause of an accident.

QZ8501: Second black box found

Search teams have recovered the second black box from the wreckage of Air Asia flight QZ8501. Indonesia’s Transport Minister, Ignasius Jonan, confirmed on Tuesday that the cockpit voice recorder has now been retrieved by divers and taken to the surface. The first black box, the flight data recorder, was recovered on Monday.

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