We were plotting flightpaths as practice in programming class but unfortunately that was limited to some recordings from a research aircraft.

I'm wondering if I can pick up the raw data files from (accident) Flight Data Recorders somewhere to see if I can plot them as well?

(Like a file with rows listing time, position, altitude, airspeed etc.)

  • $\begingroup$ you could ask the FAA or NTSB for the raw data of some, no guarantees though $\endgroup$ May 25, 2014 at 16:30
  • $\begingroup$ I'm thinking a FOIA request might be the way to go, but I don't know if it could be denied on the basis of containing proprietary airframe/engine manufacturer data. Wild speculation here. $\endgroup$
    – TypeIA
    May 25, 2014 at 19:06
  • $\begingroup$ @dvnrrs i'm just looking for those 88 FDR parameters, so I hope not. Seeems that the way to go is to send something off to some agency on some recent event (BA38 perhaps?) where it may be directly accessible on computer to see if they return something... $\endgroup$ May 25, 2014 at 19:17
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Just fired off a request to the AAIB for information about BA38. See if it returns anything... $\endgroup$ May 25, 2014 at 19:42
  • $\begingroup$ You could use ADS-B recordings to plot the paths. I can provide you with tons of them if you'd like. I have recordings of PH-LAB as well so you can compare (I assume that is the research aircraft you are referring to) $\endgroup$
    – DeltaLima
    May 26, 2014 at 7:31

3 Answers 3


Unlike the AAIB, the NTSB does release FDR data dumps (adjusted for engineering units and culled to the same parameters as the graphs) as part of the docket release for a given accident -- no FOIA pestering needed!

See these examples from the Bedford, MA Gulfstream overrun crash, for instance (they're CSV files). You'll be able to find more by looking through the dockets associated with recent major NTSB accident reports.


The AAIB responded quite quickly (and briefly) but were not very helpful:

AAIB does not release FDR raw data on any accidents in line with the EU regulation 996/2010 article 14.

Having a look at the corresponding EU regulation:

The safety investigation of accidents and incidents should be conducted by or under the control of an independent safety investigation authority in order to avoid any conflict of interest and any possible external interference in the determination of the causes of the occurrences being investigated.

Paraphrased, I don't think they want 'unexperienced' people interpreting data on their own and making conspiracy theories or something I guess :) That being said, the regulation doesn't expressly forbid the distribution of information in my opinion, but I won't bother discussing it further. I think that unless you have a proper reason for it, they won't give it to you.

Update: Paragraph 35 is interesting....

The rules on access to data, data processing and the protection of individuals laid down in relevant legal acts of the Union should be fully respected in the application of this Regulation.

which may imply that you could get it, depending on how those are written, which I have absolutely no clue about.


If you want data from small aircraft, cirrusreports.com has data recorder information for thousands of flights. I don't believe you can actually download the raw data, but you can interactively plot dozens of parameters.


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