Mitigating Flight Data Recorder Modification Issues using Modular FDAUs

Mitigating Flight Data Recorder Modification Issues using Modular FDAUs

The Need for Data Collection and Conditioning

Flight Data Recorders (FDR) are necessary for any aircraft to provide valuable information to accident investigators following an incident. FDRs have, for the commercial world, usually been developed in accordance to ARINC 747 which describes a 1/2 ATR chassis form factor with a standard ARINC 717 FDR interface. ARINC 747 defines recorder characteristics that should be followed so that installers and users can interchange from one recorder to another.

However not all aircraft are the same and a standard FDR design will not always be compatible with the customer’s data requirements and so it may be necessary to add a Flight Data Acquisition Unit (FDAU) in order to interface with the aircraft sensors and buses.

Using FDAUs

Aircraft airworthiness regulations specify what parameters must be gathered (such as altitude, airspeed, and so forth) but they do not specify the source i.e. the avionics bus, sensor type, etc. This means that no one design of FDAU can meet the aircraft requirements without some level of the modification itself, although as the FDAU does not need to survive a crash event, it has far less stringent standards to adhere to and thus, in general, costs less to modify and qualify.

This white paper discusses different strategies for gathering data for flight data recorders and the implications these have on deployment time, system flexibility, and suitability for deployment across a fleet of diverse aircraft.

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