Wi-SKY Says "Black Box" Searches May Become Obsolete
Real-time wireless monitoring of
CDR data is available for the first time, according to Wi-SKY
Inflight, which introduced the technology Monday. The company says
its exclusive 100 megabit-per-second wireless data transfer makes
the early detection and cockpit coaching for aircraft performance
problems possible while still in flight.
The complete aircraft avionics data stored on the Flight Data
Recorder is too voluminous to display on the cockpit instrument
panel, and too large to transmit to the ground with current
The FDR monitors 88 parameters of aircraft performance from as
many as 1,100 sensors and can accumulate as much as four gigabytes
of data per flight. Current cellular or satellite technology can
only transmit between 1 and 3 Mbps, which makes a real-time
download of the total aircraft avionics data impossible during
flight and excessively slow after the flight. Therefore pilots must
now rely upon extracted highlights of the Black Box
"At today's data rates, it would take up to six hours to
transmit four gigabytes of data from each one-hour flight,"
explains Michael Leabman, CTO of Wi-SKY Inflight. "In contrast,
Wi-SKY can transmit an entire four gigabyte file in less than 13
minutes. A real-time transfer rate of at least nine Mbps is
necessary to download a file this large during flight."
The Wi-SKY air-to-ground data link can transmit 100 Mbps to each
aircraft, which is more data than a satellite transmits to an
entire continent - 80 Mbps to share among hundreds of customers.
"Our 100 Mbps system is like giving each plane a dedicated
satellite to deliver its data," notes Leabman.
After an aircraft accident, when the complete avionics
information in the Black Box is examined, the cause of some crashes
is determined to be aircraft conditions unknown to the pilots
during the last stages of the flight.
"It's unfortunate that airlines have had to wait to recover the
Black Box after a crash to find out everything that the aircraft
avionics data files were reporting about flight performance but now
Wi-SKY's technology will change all of that," explained Grant
Sharp, CEO of Wi-SKY Inflight. "By monitoring and analyzing the
complete FDR data files during the flight, we can discover
performance issues and enable ground-based expert engineers and
pilots to coach the cockpit crew during an emergency."
Wi-SKY Inflight has developed an air-to-ground connection with
airborne aircraft that will deliver 100 megabits of data per second
(Mbps) -- fifty times faster than today's technology. Wi-SKY
Inflight's technology makes them the first to offer real-time
continuous data transfer of the complete avionics data file. Once
the total flight data package is transmitted real-time to
ground-based mainframe computers, analysis can be performed that
was never before possible.
"Continuous live monitoring of fuel tank sensors, reading
hydraulic system sensors at every critical point throughout the
aircraft, measuring aircraft stress factors, tracking multiple
airspeed indicators, monitoring complete engine trend and other key
data will enable pilots to validate their instrument readings,"
Sharp emphasizes. "When problems are detected, ground based
personnel at the airline operations monitoring center can be
immediately summoned to help the pilots deal with an emergency
situation. This can help avoid cockpit confusion that is the
leading cause of commercial aviation deaths."
Wi-SKY's intent is to offer dozens of additional real-time
flight performance reports and analysis that will streamline
airline operations and generate significant cost savings.
Sharp says some airlines have been more interested than others,
and the adoption process can be a long one. "(T)hose that have
validated our technology with their due diligence process have
cumbersome decision-making processes. We are optimistic that our
real-time, total-data avionics monitoring will be on three or four
major airlines by the end of next year."
Wi-SKY Inflight is engaged in deploying ground stations
throughout North America and Europe to support the first phases of
their air-to-ground network. Base stations are needed every 200
miles, which is about 125 to 150 stations in both North America and