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Mystery Air Crash Black Box Found Sans Memory Part

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the curiouser-and-curiouser dept.

Robotics 205

coondoggie writes "The ongoing undersea search of the Air France Flight 447 wreckage had yielded one of the key items investigators were looking for this week: the flight data recorder. Unfortunately, their hopes for more information about the crash were set back, as the robot subs scouring the ocean floor retrieved the box only to find its memory part missing."

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205 comments

Because (0, Troll)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980182)

the jews got there first.

Re:Because (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35980254)

Damn those Deep Seas Jews? More like Jawas! Conniving undersea jawas, always recovering those memory units. It's probably already been wiped and sold to a dew farmer.

Re:Because (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980384)

Oh man, don't get me started, last time I was diving one of them Deep Sea Jews shot me in the leg with a head-mounted laser.

Re:Because (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35980258)

Well, they can't really let Rapture become common knowledge now, can they?

Re:Because (3, Funny)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980282)

Looks like someone forgot to post anonymously. Given your low UID, is it possible that you are the Methusalah [memory-alpha.org] of trolls? Traveling from one era to the next, trusty bag of tired memes in one hand, bucket of spam in the other?

I'm sure damaged blackboxes happen all the time—for those who don't feel like RTFAing, it looks pretty beaten up in the photo, and they've got submersibles scouring a rather large region for more pieces still. (The summary's habit of using the word "part" is kind of adorable, in a Simple English Wikipedia sort of way. What is a memory part, anyway? Is this specialized manufacturing jargon (i.e. part numbers) or just weird writing?)

Re:Because (1, Troll)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980330)

If you want to troll, it is style-less to do so under a secondary pseudonym.

Re:Because (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35980402)

A troll with principles? Isn't that a contradiction of terms?

Re:Because (1, Troll)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980482)

The fact that "style" can be elevated to the level of having "principles" is exactly what's wrong in the world.

Re:Because (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35980788)

Choosing to have style consistently is a principle.

Re:Because (1, Troll)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981184)

Or... a pathology.

Re:Because (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981062)

Were you trolling, or making fun of conspiracy nutters? Making fun of those wackos was my first assumption.

Re:Because (2, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981192)

Making fun!

Just because they control the world's reserve currencies through banking, forced income taxes on the people of all developed nations and manipulate the markets of the world, doesn't mean they lurk behind every unexplained phenomenon!

Re:Because (1)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980354)

The summary's habit of using the word "part" is kind of adorable, in a Simple English Wikipedia sort of way. What is a memory part, anyway? Is this specialized manufacturing jargon (i.e. part numbers) or just weird writing?)

Surely they refer to a SSD, which would then be "storage", not "memory". But it's usually the OEM at fault for this sort of silliness. "Storage" and "memory" get used interchangeably in a surprising amount of ads and brichures.

Re:Because (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35980358)

He's trolling 9-11 conspiracy nuts, not you.

PS, he ain't methusalah:

Jeremiah Cornelius -> initials JC
Jesus Christ -> initials JC

Re:Because (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35980796)

I always thought it was an anagram of Corum Jhaelen Irsei. [multiverse.org]

Re:Because (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35981174)

Too late buddy: you can post AC now all you want, but you already forgot to post AC when you troll posted.

Re:Because (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35980364)

Thank you for ruining what I thought was a great budget sci-fi film, the man from Earth. Turns out it was just a rip off an episode from StarTrek: TOS. I knew I should have watched them all.

Re:Because (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980818)

I get that all the time. Compare this SGU episode [wikia.com] with this DS9 episode [memory-alpha.org] .

To be fair, though, TOS was in the business of ripping off things already. Consider Balance of Terror [memory-alpha.org] , which proudly combines a classic WW2 U-boat terror movie with the Roman Empire... IN SPACE!

Re:Because (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980642)

Looks like someone forgot to post anonymously. Given your low UID, is it possible that you are the Methusalah [memory-alpha.org] of trolls? Traveling from one era to the next, trusty bag of tired memes in one hand, bucket of spam in the other?

You know, I don't get many opportunities on this site to do this, but.... NERD!!

Re:Because (2)

bughunter (10093) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980946)

With a UID that low, if he was going to Troll, you'd be left wondering what the hell hominy porridge has to do with ex-vegan stars of melodramatic ballet movies...

Re:Because (1)

cosm (1072588) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980340)

the jews got there first.

Good sir, I believe you intended to say: "derp DA jOOZ did 911 da mOOn LAnding was a Soundstage on marz"

Re:Because (2)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980430)

Pull my finger...

Missing (2, Funny)

Widowwolf (779548) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980236)

Sorry i need to upgrade for Diablo 3 coming out soon

Memory Part? (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980264)

Memory Part? Is that a technical term? Also is a missing 'memory part' all that common or uncommon? Could there have been any sort of sabotage?

Re:Memory Part? (5, Informative)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980366)

There is a technical term for it, but basically it's the actual box on the recorder chasis which stores the data; I'm not sure whether it's magnetic storage or flash memory in this case.

And separation is certainly not unknown, there was a crash a few years back where it also separated and was later found. Odds are this one will be too, but that could take some time if it's buried under other debris.

Re:Memory Part? (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980420)

From the article, it sounds like the flight data recorder has basically been smashed to pieces. This is usually what happens to them; they're really only useful in relatively low-speed accidents.

Re:Memory Part? (3, Interesting)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980460)

From the picture I've seen, it looks like the chassis was bent by the impact and that probably caused the memory unit's mounting to break. So the memory unit itself is probably still intact somewhere.

Re:Memory Part? (4, Informative)

cmdahler (1428601) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980670)

From the article, it sounds like the flight data recorder has basically been smashed to pieces. This is usually what happens to them; they're really only useful in relatively low-speed accidents.

That's not the case at all. FDRs commonly survive catastrophic high speed accidents. For example, USAir 427 in 1994 crashed in a near vertical nose-down attitude, and pretty much all that was left of that accident was small bits and pieces. The FDR was recovered and was usable. They rolled and went nose down from 6,000 feet, and the last data on the recorder indicated an airspeed of 261 knots (300 mph, or about 135 meters per second), at a 80 nose-down attitude, virtually straight into the ground. If an FDR can survive that, it can survive damn near anything.

Re:Memory Part? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981084)

No. Impact direction, spin and position are all factors as well.

Many are damaged. Hey, I say a guy survive a 150MPH impacts once, so I guess anyone can?

Re:Memory Part? (1)

cmdahler (1428601) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981218)

Yes. These devices are made to withstand very high forces. You clearly have zero knowledge of anything related to aviation. There are very few aviation accidents, no matter how catastrophic, in which the FDR and CVR do not contain usable data.

Re:Memory Part? (1)

ryanov (193048) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981270)

Many are damaged. I can't think of more than maybe one case where the data wasn't still extremely helpful.

Re:Memory Part? (1)

ryanov (193048) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981258)

Where do you get this? I can't think of hardly any cases where the recording was completely unusable, except a few times where the recording was later overwritten.

Re:Memory Part? (3, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981390)

Not sure if this is relevant but I once worked on a recording device for FA/18s. The module which stores the data plugs into a slot in the aircraft or an external reader. It is approximately 80*80*30mm and grooved so it can only slide into its slot one way. On the 30*80mm side which sits flush with the surface of the reader there is a hinged lever and a locking catch. To insert the cartridge you push it say 60mm into the slot, then engage the lever with a bar on the reader surface and use leverage to push it the rest of the way. On the opposite side of the cartridge from the lever there is a 25 pin D plug which mates with a socket on the reader (or aircraft). The recording mechanism is hidden though at the time I did this work it must have been streaming tape like a TK50.

I could imagine a cartridge like this popping out of the box which writes the data to it on impact. The cartridge is extremely robust and will be probably sitting on the bottom around there somewhere. Of course the system on the airbus could be totally different from the one I saw.

Re:Memory Part? (5, Funny)

Sponge Bath (413667) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980372)

"Could there have been any sort of sabotage?"

Mischievous squids?

Re:Memory Part? (2)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980554)

"Could there have been any sort of sabotage?"

Mischievous squids?

I smiled.

Our family has a cottage in the middle of nowhere and all the neighbours are nice, but that doesn't stop my urban dwelling brother from obsessively locking his car. I keep asking him if he's worried about the raccoons taking midnight joyrides.

Re:Memory Part? (3, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981074)

Our family has a cottage in the middle of nowhere and all the neighbours are nice, but that doesn't stop my urban dwelling brother from obsessively locking his car. I keep asking him if he's worried about the raccoons taking midnight joyrides.

Haven't you seen raccoons washing their hands in a stream? It's not about being sanitary, it's a guilty conscience combined with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Re:Memory Part? (2)

gknoy (899301) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981088)

Habits are most effective when maintained, and insurance companies are less likely to reimburse you if your car wasn't locked.

Re:Memory Part? (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981108)

That's not just an urban thing, I love living i an Urban setting. In rarely lock my cars or doors for that matter.

You're brother is just a victim of scare monger media reports feeding into , and possible creating, and confirmation bias loop.

Re:Memory Part? (2)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981152)

Our family has a cottage in the middle of nowhere and all the neighbours are nice, but that doesn't stop my urban dwelling brother from obsessively locking his car. I keep asking him if he's worried about the raccoons taking midnight joyrides.

I always lock my car too. I basically promised the insurance company I would, so I do. Your neighbors might be nice, and your neighbors teenage kids might be nice too, but even nice teenage kids with a bit of booze in them can suddenly think that taking an unlocked car for a joy ride is a good idea. And most crimes would be done by non-locals anyway... your nice neighbors might notice them and take a description so you can catch them later, but that doesn't necessarily get your car back. Your brother might just be a creature of habit too - I know I am. If I have to think about locking the car in the city, but not locking it at home, I'll just end up forgetting.

Re:Memory Part? (1)

ryanov (193048) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981292)

Beyond that -- if someone wants your car, locked doors are not going to stop them. I lock it to keep mischief out/keep people from taking shit that's not worth breaking in for (though I have had my cassette adapter stolen via broken windows -- I guess when you want one, you want one).

Re:Memory Part? (2)

427_ci_505 (1009677) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981540)

"Our family has a cottage in the middle of nowhere and all the neighbours are nice, but that doesn't stop my urban dwelling brother from obsessively locking his car. I keep asking him if he's worried about the raccoons taking midnight joyrides."

Habits die hard. And I'd rather be in the habit of always locking my car, than getting into the habit of leaving it unlocked, and someday having it bite me in the ass when I move back into an urban setting.

Yes, door locks won't prevent a dedicated thief from entering. Same way a lock on an apartment door in a big city won't prevent it. But it will keep the casual assholes out, and that's most people.

Re:Memory Part? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35980686)

It was that damn Cthulhu again.

Re:Memory Part? (1)

aBaldrich (1692238) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980388)

No, how on earth can the "memory part" go missing? They clearly don't want everybody to know what was on that memory. If, after close examination, they find out it is nothing that could remotely incriminate a politician, then it will magically "appear".

Re:Memory Part? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980568)

It is perhaps a sign of the times that I cannot tell if you are being sarcastic, trolling, or sincerely believe what you posted.

Re:Memory Part? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981120)

I thought the same thing, so I look at some of his other posts..and I STILL don't know.

Re:Memory Part? (0)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981066)

The very last thing Airbus wants is to find that recorder, so I wouldn't rule it out.

Re:Memory Part? (2)

ryanov (193048) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981300)

Nonsense. The crash was not even likely to be their fault.

Re:Memory Part? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35981360)

Why on earth not? If they confirm the most dominant theory, it would shift blame to Air France who were slow in implementing the recommendations by Airbus to replace the Thales pitot tubes with Goodrich.

Re:Memory Part? (2)

bughunter (10093) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981076)

Is that a technical term?

TFA is Michael Cooney's Layer 8 blog. I'll give Cooney the benefit of the doubt and assume he did the 30 seconds of research [google.com] necessary to find out [honeywell.com] the correct term [l-3com.com] and just assume he misplaced a key memory part.

Re:Memory Part? (1)

ryanov (193048) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981244)

The same thing happened for the crash of Ethiopian flight 409. The memory was found 6 days later, only partially damaged. From avherald.com:

The cockpit voice recorder was recovered from the sea on Feb 10th 2010 however the memory part was missing. The memory was recovered on Feb 16th 2010, however one of the 16 memory chips was found cracked resulting in about 10 seconds of recordings missing every 4 minutes. The chip is likely to be unreadable, however additional attempts to restore the chip's contents are underway.

I've read the reason to have it be possible to separate is so that the box bears the brunt of the impact and the memory can decelerate.

They did not pay the 20$ fee? (1, Funny)

140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980272)

Oh, no! They forgot to pay the 20$ extra fee to install memory card in the flight data recorder? Bummer!

Look for the island (1)

RafaelGCPP (922041) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980278)

Widmore knows!! They're alive!! Linus told me!

What about the 9/11 black boxes... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35980296)

Funny how most of those weren't found. Which has never happened before in an air crash...

Aren't the idiots here who defend the Jews, sick of them destroying your country yet? The people are taxed to bail out Jewish owned banks, which practice fractional reserve banking (i.e. counterfeiting on a grand scale), they send YOUR children to fight wars for 'precious' Israel, YOU pay taxes for those wars, which are bankrupting America, they run the media and tell you what to think, and you still defend these people, who modestly call themselves 'God's chosen people'?

Know anything about Kapparot? Do you know what a 'mohel' does? Why isn't this stuff illegal? Because JEWS do it, that's why.

Re:What about the 9/11 black boxes... (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980808)

What about them?

According to the 9/11 Commission Report, both black boxes from Flight 77 and both black boxes from Flight 93 were recovered. However, the CVR from Flight 77 was said to be too damaged to yield any data. On April 18, 2002, the FBI allowed the families of victims from Flight 93 to listen to the voice recordings. In April 2006, a transcript of the CVR was released as part of the Zacarias Moussaoui trial.

http://articles.cnn.com/2002-04-18/us/rec.flight.93_1_family-members-deena-burnett-flight-attendants?_s=PM:US [cnn.com]

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/apr/13/usa.september11 [guardian.co.uk]

As for Kapparot and Brit milah, they are legal because its a damned religious issue.

The First Amendment prohibits the federal government from making a law "respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" This provision was later expanded to state and local governments, through the Incorporation of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Outlaw Brit milah and Mohels and you violate the First Amendment.

Re:What about the 9/11 black boxes... (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981086)

Logically: ignorant african immigrants should also be allowed to mutilate their daughters. Same shit, really.

Re:What about the 9/11 black boxes... (1)

ryanov (193048) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981312)

I dislike the Israel thing as much as anyone, but that's like equating Christians with the USA. The USA is not a Christian nation and not all of the USA is Christian. While that is less true of Israel, it is certainly true that all Jews are not Israeli and don't all necessarily approve of their actions. I know you're trolling, but perhaps someone else hasn't thought this through also.

The True Story (4, Funny)

cosm (1072588) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980302)

Obviously, Barack Obama's birth certificate stating he was born in Kenya was on this plane. When the Jooz realized this, they called up the Illuminati and had them have Gaddafi plant a bomb on the plane. This was a Majestic-12 orchestrated conspiracy to get us involved with Libya to protect our rebellious young people interest, something which has been declining in the past decades because of rainbows in sprinklers and the chem-trails in the sky.

The missing memory chip only confirms that the Greys were there to teleport the chip to their holographic dimension before the passengers disappeared in the Bermuda triangle, only to be transported to Layer-7 in Dulce.

This then confirms that Kennedy was shot by the mafia to protect the Illuminati-Majestic-12 conspiracy. Also, the chip had the location of the nuclear weapons in Iraq.

Obviously.

Re:The True Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35980556)

Could you cite your sources please :P~

Re:The True Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35980606)

Oblig PA [penny-arcade.com]

Re:The True Story (1)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980610)

Oh, c'mon. Certainly Gaddafi would have outsourced the bomb part. What kind of fools do you take us for?

Re:The True Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35980914)

That person would have only given him a box of used pinball machine parts.

Re:The True Story (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980626)

Geez, I was just about to fill in everyone about this, but there's always some wise ass who beats me to it. What a compleat downer, dood!

Now, if only they make it mandatory for those governors of the states (Texas, Georgia, Alabama, et al.) requesting emergency federal aid to fork over THEIR birth certificates.

Of course, I'm sure Donald Trump has already forged an American birth certificate for his hairpiece, who recently announced it, too, is running for the presidency (should be some serious competition for Bachmannmeister).

Re:The True Story (2)

Sir_Eptishous (873977) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980826)

You've got it all wrong. They sent in the North Korean sub to retrieve the "memory part". You know, the sub that torpedoed the Deepwater Horizon.

Re:The True Story (1)

Falkentyne (760418) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981014)

... The missing memory chip only confirms that the Greys were there to teleport the chip to their holographic dimension before the passengers disappeared in the Bermuda triangle, only to be transported to Layer-7 in Dulce. ...

Welcome to /., Tom Cruise.

X-files (1)

bvimo (780026) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980404)

Is this a job for Mulder and Scully?

Re:X-files (1)

dominious (1077089) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980478)

uh... this is 2010..maybe you mean Bishop and Dunham.

Re:X-files (1)

Vancorps (746090) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980662)

Last I checked it was 2011, but the rest of the post still stands

Re:X-files (1)

folderol (1965326) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980856)

For a moment I read that as The Bishop of Durham - obviously working too late!

Re:X-files (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981138)

HAHAHahaha.. man There needs to be a youtube Fring Spoof called "The Bishop of Durham"

very bad summary (3, Interesting)

fermion (181285) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980440)

I was going to create some conspiracy theory about how the UN, who is pushed the Obama Presidency on the America people to subjugate the good and wholesome light of legitimate americans to the international jewish conspiracy, crashed the plane because people on board were in possession of personal knowledge of the illegitimacy of his presidency, and subsequently had to push a secret meeting to disintegrate the data from the black box using well known but secret technology that was stolen from the allien space ship that crashed in Tunguska in 1947.

But that all went away when it the article made it clear that all that found was the chasis for the data recorder, and none of the actual black boxes, i.e. crash survivable memory units, have in fact been seen or recovered.

The Robot found it missing? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980456)

I'm confused. Was the flight data recorder was found, brought to the surface, opened and the memory module was missing (ie not installed), or was the memory module a separate piece of equipment that connects to the flight data recorder and could simply be covered up by other wreckage in the debris field. If the memory module is contained within the flight data recorder, how is this not flagged by the avionics as a problem? If it is a separate piece of equipment, then what is the point of the flight data recorder. It's obviously not recording any flight data.

Re:The Robot found it missing? (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980520)

I'm confused. Was the flight data recorder was found, brought to the surface, opened and the memory module was missing (ie not installed), or was the memory module a separate piece of equipment that connects to the flight data recorder and could simply be covered up by other wreckage in the debris field.

The memory module is a unit mounted in the flight recorder and it's clearly missing in the pictures sent back from the sea bed. As I mentioned above, the flight data recorder chassis looks to have bent enough to break the memory unit away from its mounting points, mostly likely when the plane hit the sea. In that case it should be somewhere in the debris field, but probably some distance from the rest of the unit due to differences in shape and density.

I believe it's basically an orange cylinder, so it should show up against the sea bed if it isn't lying under another piece of debris.

Re:The Robot found it missing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35980866)

What if the seabed is orange too?

Re:The Robot found it missing? (2)

0123456 (636235) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980900)

What if the seabed is orange too?

Then you may be screwed :).

In normal circumstances you'd find it using the pinger signal, but that wasn't detected during the initial search and the battery died a long time ago (it was later detected in an offline analysis of the acoustic data recorded during that search, but that couldn't give an accurate position).

Wow, I think you've nailed it, big guy! (1)

sgt_doom (655561) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980656)

Nobody was monitoring the robot (externally, that is) to see whether or not IT had something to do with the removal of the "memory part" (not to be confused with those other parts??)? This is truly thought-provoking....I mean, could the 'bots be in on this, or something????

On a more serious note, though, recall that it was malware which brought down a Spanish airliner around that same timeframe. The malware interfered with the diagostic warning systems of the avionics systems (occupired same memory vectors, disrupting warning signals from emitting).

Obvious answer: (1)

Hartree (191324) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980524)

The space aliens that shot it down got to it first.

Upgrade! (1)

queazocotal (915608) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980560)

I've wondered for some time why planes don't decentralise this a bit.
For example, stick a 1cc little cube with an accelerometer, gyro, and some flash memory into all of the electrically operated emergency lights.
All it does issit there and log accelleration, gyro readings, and temperature to flash, and rewrites after a few weeks.
This nowadays takes truly modest amounts of power and volume.
Engines generally survive - stick a few dozen in there.

Re:Upgrade! (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980718)

Better yet, why don't they just stream the information continuously to a satellite... yeah it costs money - now how much does an Airbus at the bottom of the ocean cost again?

Re:Upgrade! (1)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980854)

Better yet, why don't they just stream the information continuously to a satellite... yeah it costs money - now how much does an Airbus at the bottom of the ocean cost again?

It isn't just the cost. It is:

Cost(of crash) x Probability(of crash) + Value(of crash data) x Probability(of crash)
+ Cost(of normal Ops) x (1-Probability(of crash)) + Value(of normal data) x (1-Probability(of crash))

That is almost certainly a negative number most of the time. Airlines hate to lose money therefore it isn't done

Re:Upgrade! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35980880)

Better yet, why don't they just stream the information continuously to a satellite... yeah it costs money - now how much does an Airbus at the bottom of the ocean cost again?

yeah, but the chances are that the connection to the satellite will go down before the plane does..

Re:Upgrade! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35981280)

Better yet, why don't they just stream the information continuously to a satellite... yeah it costs money - now how much does an Airbus at the bottom of the ocean cost again?

yeah, but the chances are that the connection to the satellite will go down before the plane does..

The most important data would most likely have been transmitted anyway at that point. Data from an aircraft that is on fire/disintegrating in the air/spiraling out of control/all of the above isn't all that useful since that's just the end result, not the cause, which is what accident investigations focus on for obvious reasons. Aircraft systems that fail can be redesigned but designing aircraft that can withstand such a condition in the air just isn't feasible. However, streaming to satellites isn't a viable solution for now anyway due to the immense amount of data that all traffic currently in the air would generate but "black boxes" which eject and float exist already and will probably be deployed even sooner as a consequence of this very accident. For laymen a report containing a description of the crew's heroic actions until the very end can understandably be more interesting to read but to improve air safety, it is much more useful to know what started to go wrong than what the crew did when they no longer had any chance to save the aircraft anyway.

Re:Upgrade! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35980892)

This can already done with each of the jet engines... very sophisticated.

http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/05_46/b3959091.htm

Re:Upgrade! (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980982)

Where are you going to get the satellite bandwidth of all of that?

5300 odd commercial aircraft operating per day over the US, about 9,000 worldwide.

Re:Upgrade! (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981158)

It would be interesting if they could add a system that start send all data vie satellite when an emergency is detected.

Re:Upgrade! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35981110)

That would be ideal. Though a 1cc box maybe too small to find on the bottom of the sea floor.

But last time I heard this kind of topic being brought up, some suggested reasons it hasn't happened yet is because:
Accurate recoverable data recordings are bad for 3 groups: Pilots, Airlines, & Airline manufactures.

Pilots - don't want anything point to pilot error(or drunk flying). Though not that it matters if their reputation is tarnished after they crash and die.

Airlines/Airline manufactures - don't want anything pointing to bad construction, poor maintenance, etc

Also it's not like anyone wants to pay for developing a new system when the old one "works".

Re:Upgrade! (1)

ryanov (193048) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981352)

Pilots want not to be killed while flying a plane. Most I know would prefer to know about a lurking flaw or situation that could kill them. One in particular flies the A330. Aircraft manufactures don't like to have their planes go down and have people reject their product. The reason it hasn't been done is because it's expensive -- that's it.

Re:Upgrade! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35981220)

Some limited amount of data is intermittently uplinked via satellite -- that's one of the reasons they know that there were conflicting readings coming from the airspeed indicators on the plane before it crashed. But the bandwidth for data transmission is very limited.

Re:Upgrade! (1)

Wyatt Earp (1029) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980960)

Flight Data Recorders have to do a lot more than what you are proposing.

EUROCAE, which the FAA takes it's specifications from, specifies that a recorder must be able to withstand an acceleration of 3400 g (33 km/s) for 6.5 milliseconds. This is roughly equivalent to an impact velocity of 270 knots (310 mph) and a deceleration or crushing distance of 450 cm. Additionally, there are requirements for penetration resistance, static crush, high and low temperature fires, deep sea pressure, sea water immersion, and fluid immersion.

http://www.airweb.faa.gov/Regulatory_and_Guidance_Library/rgTSO.nsf/0/CDFB8415D43E695786256DAC0061EC73?OpenDocument [faa.gov]

They record significant flight parameters, including the control and actuator positions, engine information and time of day. There are 88 parameters required as a minimum under current U.S. federal regulations.

Most modern units self eject, they have to be big enough to show up on sonar and have an acoustic and visual beacon for 30 days.

Re:Upgrade! (1)

queazocotal (915608) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981054)

I'm not quite meaning make it a proper flight recorder, just a basic system.

Acceleration is easy - on a small object, a 2 gram flight recorder has a 'weight' of 7Kg or so.
The idea would be that these would be pretty much scattered throughout the structure in known places.

For example - it's rare that none of the engines ever get found, so scatter a dozen in each engine, ...

but that's his point: the FAA design is stupid (1)

r00t (33219) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981314)

an acceleration of 3400 g (33 km/s) for 6.5 milliseconds. This is roughly equivalent to an impact velocity of 270 knots (310 mph) and a deceleration or crushing distance of 450 cm. Additionally, there are requirements for penetration resistance, static crush, high and low temperature fires, deep sea pressure, sea water immersion, and fluid immersion. [...] big enough to show up on sonar and have an acoustic and visual beacon for 30 days.

This is why the system is so bulky/heavy/expensive that it wasn't practical to embed one in every major aircraft component. The vertical tail piece was found days after the crash, floating on the ocean, but didn't contain any data. FAIL. We've now found the a main landing gear part, big enough to hold data in the support tube and very likely to be separated from any fire, but again it doesn't contain anything.

If the FAA was designing Google's datacenter, they'd use one supercomputer. They'd load it up with expensive components in a futile attempt to prevent it from ever failing. They'd have just one data center, under a concrete dome designed to stop an M-9 earthquake.

BTW, deep sea pressure is no big deal for a silicon chip. As long as the surrounding stuff doesn't cause bending that leads to a crack, silicon will laugh at the Marinaras trench. It's crystal, similar to diamond.

They only found the "chassis" of the FDR (3, Interesting)

Solandri (704621) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980844)

To answer everyone's question, all they found is the chassis [aviationweek.com] housing the FDR. It connects to the plane's avionics and does the actual flight data recording, which it then writes to flash memory in a separate memory module. It is only important before the crash. The memory module plugs into this chassis and screws on (you can see the 4 screws on the chassis and the screw holes on the memory module's feet if you click on the pic in the link). During the crash, the two got separated. The memory module itself [bbc.co.uk] is the part that's designed to be crash/fire/water-proof, and the locater beacon they were listening for immediately after the crash is attached to the memory module.

To The Cloud! (2)

Sir_Eptishous (873977) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980860)

All flight data should be backed up on Cloud Storage.

Re:To The Cloud! (1)

Tiger4 (840741) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980874)

EC2 [amazon.com] ?

Re:To The Cloud! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35980912)

In this case, had this particular airliner stayed out of "the cloud", it wouldn't have crashed in the first place.

Re:To The Cloud! (0)

hedwards (940851) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981032)

Sup, Dawg, I heard you like clouds, so I put a cloud in your plane, so you can crash when you crash.

So a sea creature...? (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980948)

So some sea critter ate the memory chips, specifically? This reminds me of a story about the fish kids in ocean schools: "I can't turn in my homework... I put it on a memory stick and the octopus ate it!"

Re:So a sea creature...? (1)

ryanov (193048) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981362)

The thought is that it is too large/sturdy to be of interest. It also sounds like it must be pretty heavy.

Stop Outsourcing! (0)

Gallomimia (1415613) | more than 3 years ago | (#35980992)

See what happens when you outsource critical tasks to foreign nations with no knowledge of the consequences of their mistakes?
Or wait, maybe the problem is that the workers who do this are all unionized and don't care about their mistakes because of their protectionism and entitlement mentalities?
In all seriousness, shouldn't this part of the blackbox and its functionality be tested every time the plane lands/takes off? And also, shouldn't the blackbox be constructed in such a way that would prevent the "memory part" from just up and going missing? Otherwise, why the fuck do we have blackboxes? Why even have an NTSA or equivalent for your politically ambiguous region? Without data recorders that do their job, those boys are just working on a big jigsaw puzzle.

On another note, why is there only one such recorder? Why is there only one "memory part"? Why aren't there three, with one that floats and is ejected as soon as any kind of serious impact is detected? iirc they already have locators on them. Why has this taken so long to find? What are we doing wrong? Or has searching for flight data recorders and recreating horrible accidents become yet another make-work job to keep the economy artificially inflated?

Re:Stop Outsourcing! (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 3 years ago | (#35981284)

Because the FDR is just part of the unit:
http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/45996000/gif/_45996239_black_box_loc_v2_466_v2.gif [bbc.co.uk]

Also, a floating FDR would be a nightmare. In the event of an ocean crash do you *really* want the FDR to drift off on the currents? It could end up anywhere - oceans are vast, even with a locator beacon broadcasting its position it's hard enough to find in a reasonably well defined debris field on the seabed.

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