(Image courtesy: Honeywell)

Curtiss-Wright and Honeywell team to develop cloud-enabled flight recorders of the future

Davidson, North Carolina-based Curtiss-Wright Corporation and Honeywell International, Inc. of Charlotte, North Carolina will co-develop a next-generation “black box” device with real-time data streaming and cloud-upload capabilities. The new flight recorders device will meet an upcoming 2021 European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) mandate requiring aircraft to store a minimum of 25 hours of voice recordings.

As a source of critical aircraft data, black boxes – both cockpit voice recorders (CVR) and flight data recorders (FDR) – passively collect large amounts of information from multiple sources during each flight. The new flight recorders will fill the roles of traditional CVR and FDR units for commercial airline, cargo transport, and business jet markets; however, they will leverage Honeywell’s Connected Aircraft software for swift and remote retrieval of flight data from the aircraft for storage or analysis. This remote retrieval feature ensures that, in the event of an accident, investigators can use the data to learn more about the chain of events leading up to it.

According to Curtiss-Wright, the new recorders will serve as a “black boxes in the sky,” meaning owners, operators, and manufacturers will have the option to access the data at all times. Beyond the value this has in an emergency situation, the real-time data collected from thousands of parameters could be used to improve maintenance predictability and operational insight through data analytics.

(Image courtesy: Honeywell)

“Honeywell and Curtiss-Wright have long been pioneers and innovators of crash protected recorders, providing flight data recorders to the industry for over 50 years,” says David C. Adams, chairman and CEO of Curtiss-Wright Corporation. “Working together, we will take flight data recorder connectivity and performance to new heights, with extended operation and greater survivability. Bringing our combined experience to the marketplace will generate financial, safety, and operational benefits for years to come.”

Learn more about flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders

The companies will jointly develop the hardware for the new black boxes and Honeywell will modernize the software capabilities for easier access to real-time data during flight. This will provide aircraft owners, operators, and manufacturers with new voice and flight data recording options to help decrease aircraft downtime through better predictive maintenance.

As part of the new agreement, Curtiss-Wright will be the exclusive supplier for Honeywell’s next-generation recorders for the air transport and business aviation markets.

“The importance of reliable cockpit voice and flight data recorders cannot be overstated. That’s why we are working alongside Curtiss-Wright to design and develop the next generation of recorders that leverages our full hardware and software expertise to meet the 25-hour requirement, to identify the right information and make it available to airline operators when it’s most needed,” says Ben Driggs, president, Services & Connectivity, at Honeywell Aerospace. “With the new regulatory requirement, we saw an opportunity to evolve our recorder technology to not only meet the conditions of governing agencies, but also make this product more powerful and better connected, providing aircraft operators with another source of data collection that can be used to improve aircraft maintenance and performance.”

The new CVR and FDR, based on Curtiss-Wright’s industry leading compact, lightweight Fortress flight data recorder technology, will surpass the requirements of the upcoming 2021 European Aviation Safety Agency minimum 25-hour cockpit voice recording mandate. This means the aircraft data can be used for more efficient operations, allowing for additional predictive maintenance and real-time playback of data and voice communications.

(Image courtesy: Honeywell)

Along with added connectivity, the next-generation recorders provide an easy upgrade that saves installation time and lowers costs due to their design as form-fit replacements for Honeywell’s HFR-5 series cockpit voice and flight data recorders. Curtiss-Wright recently certified its Fortress recorder, a 25-hour CVR/FDR recorder that is used as the foundation for the new Honeywell Connected Recorder-25 or HCR-25. 

As part of the development of the new recorders, Honeywell will offer the product in several variants, including as a standalone CVR, as a standalone FDR, or as a combined voice and flight data recorder.

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William Kucinski is content editor at SAE International, Aerospace Products Group in Warrendale, Pa. Previously, he worked as a writer at the NASA Safety Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was responsible for writing the agency’s System Failure Case Studies. His interests include literally anything that has to do with space, past and present military aircraft, and propulsion technology.

Contact him regarding any article or collaboration ideas by e-mail at william.kucinski@sae.org.
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