White Papers

Why is it so Difficult to Design a Flight Recorder?

October 23, 2018 | BY: Stephen Willis, Steve Leaper

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Flight Data Recorders (FDR) are avionics units that record flight data, voice, data link and other information into memory that is encased in materials designed to protect against stipulated crash conditions. They are mandatory by law on some aircraft (airliners for example) and desired on many others (both in civilian and military applications).


Figure 1: Flight data recorders generally consist of a set of specialized and interdependent components

There are organisations that wish to develop their own FDRs rather than purchase them from FDR manufacturers in order to develop the technology in-country, reduce costs and/or to be able to create highly customized recorders for particular applications (such as launcher or missile testing). However, designing an FDR to international standards of crash survivability is a very difficult task. This white paper details the requirements for an FDR, how they are built and what options third parties have for streamlining their own FDR developments.

Download the “Why is it so Difficult to Design a Flight Recorder?” white paper to learn more about:

  • Flight Data Recorders (FDR)
  • Crash Protected Memory Modules (CPMM)
  • Industry regulations
  • Environmental testing


Author’s Biography

Stephen Willis

Product Marketing Specialist

Stephen Willis works for Curtiss-Wright in the role of Product Marketing Specialist. He has a degree in Electrical Engineering, a Masters in Philosophy for research in mathematical models and their market application for risk assessment and a PG Dip in marketing and management. His current research interests include data acquisition, recording and control systems and their applications in enabling a cost effective route to gathering large amounts of data. In particular, applications of interest include flight test, crash protected recording and structural/ usage monitoring programs. He is the author of several of academic papers and magazine articles.

Author’s Biography

Steve Leaper

Product and Avionics Bids Manager

Steve Leaper works for Curtiss-Wright in the role of product manager for flight recorders and bids manager. He joined Curtiss-Wright in 1986, initially working with tape based voice and flight data recorders. Steve has spent virtually all of his career working with the flight recorder product range, with extensive knowledge of the product range and requirements. Steve has held the position of programme manager and had key account management responsibility for AgustaWestland, BAE Systems, and Goodrich amongst others whilst also representing Curtiss-Wright at international committees such as ARINC and EUROCAE.

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