up­grade: the fu­ture of plane track­ing tech

Australian T3 - - PLANE TRUTH -

1/

Smarter black boxes The com­mon ques­tion dur­ing the search for Flight MH370: why don’t black boxes con­stantly stream flight info to the ground? The an­swer is a lack of af­ford­able band­width. There is a po­ten­tial so­lu­tion, though. Trig­gered trans­mis­sions would send a re­port au­to­mat­i­cally if a plane starts rolling or is­sues a stall warn­ing. This po­ten­tially could pin­point a flight’s last known po­si­tion to within 11 kilo­me­tres and give hints as to the events leading to a crash. The idea is be­ing dis­cussed by the In­ter­na­tional Civil Avi­a­tion Or­gan­i­sa­tion this Oc­to­ber. 2/ Longer voice record­ings from the cock­pit A Boe­ing 777’s recorder can pick up just two hours of au­dio, point­less for long-haul flights. The Euro­pean Avi­a­tion Safety Agency (EASA) pro­poses ex­tend­ing this to 15 hours. 3/ More ef­fec­tive un­der­wa­ter pings All black boxes emit an ul­tra­sonic pulse once a sec­ond for up to 30 days af­ter a flight goes down in the sea. A de­ci­sion has al­ready been made to up that time to 90 days, giv­ing search teams a longer win­dow. How­ever, those black-box pingers can be hard to hear un­der miles of wa­ter. For that rea­son, the EASA has sug­gested a long-range, low-fre­quency 8.8 kilo­hertz ping, like a whale song, be at­tached to planes that travel ocean routes reg­u­larly. It would ex­tend the range from 1,500m to 10.7km. 4/

Track­ing over oceans Send­ing lo­ca­tion data over ex­ist­ing pings would help with track­ing flights through GPS black spots, such as oceans. The Irid­ium satel­lite net­work will of­fer air­craft lo­ca­tion data ser­vice Aireon from 2017, which re­quires no up­grade to ex­ist­ing planes.

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