Curtiss-Wright Black Boxes Receive European Approval

(Image courtesy: Curtiss-Wright Corporation)

Curtiss-Wright Corporation ’s Fortress  line of combined cockpit voice recorders (CVRs) and flight data recorders (FDRs) are now have European Technical Standard Order (ETSO) approval. The devices, commonly referred to as “black boxes,” will surpass the requirements of an upcoming 2021 European Union Aviation Safety Agency  (EASA) mandate that requires CVRs are capable of recording for up to 25 hours per flight.

The Fortress line of black boxes, developed by Curtiss-Wright’s Defense Solutions division, combines a CVR, FDR, datalink recorder (DLR), and airborne image recorder (AIR) in a single unit. In order to meet customization requirements for various aircraft, the modular devices are designed for easy and rapid modification. The recorder can also be expaned, making it easier and more cost-effective to add new functionality within the unit, such as MIL-STD-1553 data links, integrated acquisition, and health and usage monitoring systems (HUMS), all while reducing aircraft line-replaceable unit (LRU) count and total system weight.

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

In meeting European Organisation for Civil Aviation Equipment (EUROCAE) definitions for class 4, 5, and 6 Cockpit Voice Recorders (CVR), Fortress recorders are believed to be the first to meet the demanding requirements of EUROCAE ED-112A.

“We are the first supplier to meet flight recorder extended operational requirements and increased crash survivability test requirements included in ED-112A, furthering our commitment to helping aircraft meet the latest regulations while using the best technology to add more functionality in less space and cost for new and older aircraft,” says Lynn Bamford, senior vice president and general manager of the Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions division.

The CVR/FDRs enable the aircraft data to be used for more efficient operations, allowing for additional predictive maintenance and real-time playback of data and voice communications. The compact and lightweight Fortress product line is designed to meet all current and anticipated regulations. The EASA certifications include ETSO-C123c, ETSO-C124c, ETSO-C176a and ETSO-C177a.

At under 8.5 pounds, including a 90-day underwater locator beacon (ULB), the new Fortress recorders weigh less than early generation solid state recorder alternatives, which helps to significantly reduce fuel cost savings. This breakthrough in weight reduction results from Curtiss-Wright’s decades of expertise in optimizing the crash recorder electronics, materials, and manufacturing process. The recorder systems also support dual-redundant CVR/FDR installation to mitigate the risk of mandatory grounding in case of recorder failure and are housed in a compact rugged unit.

Learn more about flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders

Fortress recorders are usable on a wide range of aircraft platforms, including helicopters, airliners, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), executive aircraft, and military aircraft.

Davidson, North Carolina-based Curtiss-Wright recently entered into an agreement with Honeywell International, Inc.  of Charlotte, North Carolina to co-develop a next-generation black box device with real-time data streaming and cloud-upload capabilities. This new device will also meet the 2021 EASA mandate. As part of the agreement, Curtiss-Wright will become the sole supplier of Honeywell’s next-gen recorders.

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.

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