Curtiss-Wright and Honeywell use connectivity to reinvent airplane black box recorders

In a major boost for airline accident investigations, two aviation leaders, Curtiss-Wright and Honeywell have partnered to develop an entirely new way for airlines to monitor and analyse flight data.

The companies will use real-time connectivity to reinvent the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) and Flight Data Recorder (FDR) – commonly referred to as “black boxes” – for the commercial airline, cargo transport and business jet markets. The companies signed an agreement to develop the next generation of mandate-compliant voice and data recorders. 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 companies will jointly develop the hardware for the new black boxes, and Honeywell will modernise 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 and, in the unlikely event of an emergency, help with the subsequent investigation. Further, operators will benefit from real-time data streaming and cloud-upload capabilities, enabled by Honeywell’s Connected Aircraft software, which allows for the swift and remote retrieval of data from the aircraft for storage or analysis.

“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,” said David C. Adams, chairman and CEO of Curtiss-Wright. “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.”

As a source of critical aircraft data, black boxes passively collect large amounts of information from multiple sources during each flight. This 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. This new recorder will serve as a “Black Box in the Sky,” meaning owners, operators and manufacturers will have the option to access the data at all times, resulting in the potential for better maintenance predictability and operational insight through data analytics. In addition, in the event of an emergency, the data on board will be quickly accessible to investigators.

“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,” said 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. 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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