The flight data recorder (FDR) and cockpit voice recorder (CVR) are both crucial parts of aircraft, allowing investigators to determine the factors that may have caused a crash. Despite both devices being well protected with intensely rigorous housing and construction, it can be difficult to locate them in the case of a catastrophic accident, especially those in large bodies of water. In order to better ensure the timely recovery of flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders, some manufacturers have begun experimenting with an alternative device known as automatic deployable flight recording systems (DFRS).
The deployable flight recording system has many similarities to standard combination FDR and CVR equipment, featuring the standard array of components that allow for the recording of flight data, radio communication, flight conditions, and much more. For the ease of locating the device, the DFRS also has a similar emergency location transmitter (ELT) and strobe light which help investigators retrieve the unit. As accidents over open bodies of water can cause the flight data recorder to quickly become lost, such equipment has the addition of a buoyant and hardened container which can guard internal components from the forces of impact and maintain the assembly above water. While all the aforementioned items are also often seen in standard flight recorders, the major difference of the automatic deployable flight recording system is that there is also a deployment mechanism which makes it possible to quickly and reliably detach the device in the instance of an accident.
In order for the DFRS to function as intended, it relies on a number of sensors which detect the start of a crash. At that moment, the deployable unit is detached from the aircraft. Due to its placement on the aircraft, the DFRS will release from the aircraft fuselage due to its movement while traveling through the air. If the aircraft is in the water, however, the lightweight construction of the assembly will cause it to separate and float up to the surface. Either landing a distance from the crash site or indefinitely floating on the surface of water, the device then begins a satellite transmission with its location and aircraft ID for SAR authorities to pick up. Once notified, SAR personnel will then deploy to retrieve the recorder and rescue any survivors.
To install the automatic deployable flight recording system, the device is fitted onto the vertical fin of the aircraft. By ensuring that the outer surface of the device is flush with the skin of the fin, the presence of the DFRS will have little effect on the overall aerodynamics of the aircraft. Deployment is also dependent upon sensing the deformation of a structure or an impact with water, and the release of the device is made possible through a housing spring mechanism and an aerofoil shape that directs it away from the aircraft. With these various design features and capabilities, the retrieval of important crash information can be conducted much easier.
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