FLYHTStream: Emergency Streaming FDR

FLYHTStream™ is a proprietary Emergency Streaming Mode providing proactive risk management for aircraft awareness and incident analysis.  FLYHTStream automatically transmits four-dimensional GPS-based position and flight data recorder information when automatically triggered by an airborne event, initiated in the air by the pilot or on the ground by the airline. The real-time streaming of critical flight data to the ground creates a “virtual black box”, allowing the data to be analyzed immediately.

We are at the point in this modern age where we are all connected in some way, shape, or form digitally. When it comes to travel you would expect that the airlines would be just as connected as we are. Especially with all the security we have to go through to get on the plane, it would be nice to know that our flights are just as secure as we are led to believe. Considering certain airlines have wifi on their planes and offer some kind of visual entertainment you would think with that kind of connectivity the flight towers of certain airlines would be able to get notifications of any plane issues mid-flight, but instead they find out once the black box has been recovered or if the pilots are able to make contact. While flights going down going down are not that common, it has been happening enough in recent years including most recently Egypt Air flight MS804 that it has become a large concern of travelers and for people in general. Regardless of the cause for the flight being downed, one of the biggest concerns is actually finding the wreckage of the flight, locating the black box, or even locating survivors. In the year 2016 we now have the technology that will enable the control tower to receive up to the minute information on any flight, as well as a more exact location of where the flight has been downed allowing search and rescue teams the ability to arrive sooner versus finding anything months or even years later. Unlike conventional aircraft messaging systems, FLYHTStream is available worldwide with no gaps in coverage.

With FlyhtStream Personnel are automatically notified via an urgent email, text message, or even through visual & audible notification on FLYHT’s UpTime™, airline operations software, or flight tracking suites. This is important since it eliminates the chance of key personnel being unaware of an emergency due to misinterpreted maintenance messages that may not indicate the severity of the incident. Data can be immediately analyzed in order to determine the severity of the situation. With immediate event reporting and position tracking it is possible to enhance the provision of appropriate procedures and resources to improve SAR reaction times.When FLYHTStream is activated, an automated process sends real-time position and critical flight data recorder (FDR, black box) information to the ground. Flight Data Parameters, as determined by aircraft type, are transmitted including: location, altitude, airspeed, pitch, roll, yaw, engine information, and airframe indicators. The data arrives from the aircraft within 15 seconds of the event. Streaming is critical for building situational awareness of an airborne event in progress, or for post flight analysis in cases where the FDR cannot be recovered.

When Air France Flight 447 crashed in 2009, It took two years to recover the black boxes from the wreckage. That data may not have been able to prevent a crash in the moment, but it could have prevented subsequent accidents - Tom Schmutz, CEO of Flyht.

In a recent interview with CNBC's Power Lunch Tom Schmutz, CEO of Flyht, and Gordon Bethune, former Continental Airlines chairman and CEO dicussed the pros and cons of having a system like this in place on all airlines. While Mr Schmutz made a good case for his product, Gordon Bethune had this to say:

"U.S. airline regulators might mandate the technology if it proved to have a material change in aircraft safety. But it might not be vital to get black-box data right away. The information is important but it's not that critical to have in live time. The regulators tend to go on the safety side, and, of course, bereaved families want to know. The problem with all airlines adopting the technology is a cost-benefit analysis. The real-time data is helpful after the fact but might not save lives in an immediate crisis. Very little can be done to help an airplane recover from some catastrophic event by talking to the ground. It really just hasn't cleared the threshold for a very significant capital investment and operating costs".

I fully believe the technology by companies like FLYHT are necessary because we live in the age of technology. Having that information in real time would be able to help families to get over their grief at a better rate rather than waiting weeks or months for answers. It could also help improve airplane production by seeing what faults in the previous or current model planes put passengers and flight crews at risk during turbulent weather or even certain parts need to be changed completely. There is absolutely no reason to not be able to track a place in real time in this day and age. The argument that it's not worth the cost just seems like they don't want to spend the money and would rather be forced by regulators so they don't have to take on the full brunt of the costs of installing these devices in their planes. Hopefully it won't take another downed plane to get more devices such as FLYHTStream onto more planes in the near future.

For more information:

CNBC Interview

Egypt Air Crash

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