Bombardier intends the CSeries to be the first airliner to provide "live black box" in-flight telemetry data when it enters service in 2013.

The discussion of live aircraft telemetry came to the fore following the crash of the Air France Airbus A330 over the Atlantic. The flight data recorder was never located in the June 2009 crash, prompting Airbus to announce the following month it would begin studying a system to transmit flight data via air-to-ground links in a commercially viable way.

Bombardier and engine partner Pratt & Whitney see the live telemetry system supporting flight data recorders as "just like a live black box", says Bob Saia, P&W vice-president, next generation product family.

However, Bombardier sees the forensic implications of live streaming data as secondary when juxtaposed to the in-service benefit of such a system.

Bombardier CSeries
 © Bombardier

The implementation of the live streaming data is driven by three levels of fundamental functionality, says Ben Boehm, Bombardier vice-president commercial aircraft programmes. The first will provide live maintenance diagnostics. The second will leverage data for flight operations and planning, and lastly, the live data will be used for trend analysis and monitoring for proactive maintenance to reduce aircraft downtime.

Boehm says a technical platform for transmission has yet to be decided, with additional details on the system expected to be established early in the second quarter of 2011.

The conduit for transmission, adds Boehm, will be flexible and potentially delivering telemetry data by way of ground-based 3G towers, VHF, datalink or satellite communications, based on the individual requirements of each operator.

Source: Flight International