Air crash investigators now have an additional tool to help them piece together vital evidence, thanks to a new visualisation system developed by the UK's Defence Evaluation and Research Agency (DERA). "Rapid assessment of 'black box' data has been made possible through special graphical software coupled with DERA's unique test and evaluation experience," says Barry Chamberlain, DERA's manager, accident data recorder systems. "The result is Icarus; an advanced, real-time cockpit instrument display system."

"Icarus will bring commercial benefits to all aircraft operators, both military and civil, by allowing data to be rapidly visualised in real-time using a dynamic system rather than dealing with 'black box' flight recorder data that has traditionally been presented as traces or lists of numerical values."

The package, which uses the graphical software expertise of Tenet Systems, will accelerate the process of incident investigation and make the state of the aircraft clear at all stages of the flight. DisplayData input to Icarus can be either extracted from the flight recorder or transmitted via a telemetry downlink from the aircraft, thus enabling the display of instrument readings on the simulated cockpit screen in real-time.

Chamberlain says the main advantage of the Icarus system is the rapid assimilation of the behaviour and events associated with an aircraft involved in an incident or accident. The 'black box' data can be provided to investigators in the field, aiding the management of the crash site and helping to focus the investigation.

"This highly flexible and configurable system can be extended to other domains beyond air accident analysis. For example, it could be used as a debriefing tool for pilot training, where complex manoeuvres can be replayed one stage at a time allowing instructors to evaluate a pilot's performance."

The Icarus facilities include a flexible editor to allow the cockpit model display to be configured to match the real cockpit environment. It also provides a dynamic replay process for driving the cockpit model from the recorded data. Other features include the ability to replay flight data, integrated audio data and 3D displays.

Source: Flight Daily News