Case Studies

Replacing an Obsolete Custom Flight Data Recorder with an Off-the-Shelf Solution

May 02, 2018

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A fleet operator of 14 rotorcraft wanted to update the existing obsolete Cockpit Voice Flight Data Recorder (CVFDR) with a new system. This led to aircraft being grounded as the CVFDR’s were failing and on the Minimum Equipment List (MEL) – thus, classed as flight critical. The operator wanted a modern system that would be more reliable and be supported for a long time. The existing recorder contained data acquisition hardware that took data from a number of different systems including a FADEC, power management system, cockpit control unit, voice data and a warning unit.

This included parameters collected from RS-422, ARINC 429, synchro, power, discrete and accelerometer sensors that were then fed into crash protected memory. The new recorder needed to replace the functionality of the old without the need for any significant alterations to other systems or wiring.

As the existing system was essentially custom developed, a replacement needed to be custom developed too, or use a COTS modular system approach. Custom designed systems generally take a long time and are expensive to develop. While this can be suitable for large production numbers, the operator only wanted to replace systems on 14 aircraft. Thus, using an existing COTS solution that could gather data and send it to another COTS CVFDR was chosen as the approach.


The replacement FDR system was successfully developed, quickly delivered and rapidly installed, stopping the grounding of aircraft. The custom solution was implemented swiftly using off-the-shelf components which could be easily expanded or changed to meet future requirements.

To read about the solution Curtiss-Wright developed and the results achieved in our case study - download the 'Replacing an Obsolete Custom Flight Data Recorder with an Off-the-Shelf Solution' case study here.

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