Cirrus Gets A Black Box
Alaka'i Technologies Tuesday announced a comprehensive all-digital flight data monitoring and recording system for Cirrus piston-engine aircraft that records at least 51 flight and engine parameters, consumes less than eight watts of energy and weighs less than four pounds. All data is recorded on a solid-state, physically protected disk that is "always on," providing a record of every flight and "permanent storage" for 10,000 hours. The company says it expects STC approval in February 2007, and it will license one or more Cirrus service facilities to install (in about 12 hours' labor) the $5,000 system. "Passenger-for-hire companies will want to put these on board to protect charter service in the event of an accident and to reduce insurance premiums," Alaka'i President Brian Morrison told the MetroWest Daily News. SATSair may be ready to prove him right. With 50 Cirrus aircraft ordered (and options for 50 more), SATSair currently operates 26 aircraft and recently expanded air taxi operations from its Greenville, S.C., home. The company is reported by the Daily News to be in talks with Alaka'i. An Alaka'i representative we contacted Wednesday was "not at liberty to disclose" details of any potential agreement.
Parameters collected by the unit include time, OAT, GPS data, a range of engine parameters, destination waypoint ID, fuel used, oil added, vertical speed, flap position and most other things you'd expect. The system also provides Ethernet access to the data -- as well as data monitored by the aircraft's Avidyne units -- without removing anything from the aircraft. Data can be browsed and displayed on a laptop or PC in graphical or text formats, stored to a USB flash drive or printed. Details of how the unit is protected from thermal and physical damage are "proprietary," but Alaka'i President, Brian Morrison, responding to our inquiry through representative Scott Mercer, said that had the unit been aboard Cory Lidle's aircraft, "Yes, the data would in all likelihood have survived."