In the wake of the tragic helicopter crash on January 26,2020 which killed Kobe Bryant and eight other people, it would seem to make sense to follow transport category aircraft standards and fit all aircraft, except ultralights, LTA unpowered, or powered parachute, with a cockpit voice recorder and a flight data and GPS telemetry recorder?

These systems aren’t that heavy - roughly 10 lbs or so - so it would represent a minimal loss in useful load compared with other standard of optional equipment. I’m guessing with a little ingenuity, such systems can be made lighter and better tailored to light aircraft. And these systems have been indispensable in accident investigations and may well greatly improve light aircraft safety. Modern AHARS systems retain some telemetry data, one of which was responsible for piecing together this stall spin accident of a Cirrus.

One downside may be the requirement to place these systems in the tail boom of an aircraft for maximum survivability in an accident, and placing even light equipment that far from the aircraft datum, can cause dramatic shifts in Moment and CG location.

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    $\begingroup$ They’re expensive. $\endgroup$ – Koyovis Jan 30 at 20:07
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    $\begingroup$ Lol. Name one thing in aviation that ISN’T expensive! $\endgroup$ – Carlo Felicione Jan 30 at 20:28
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    $\begingroup$ Are you going to tell every GA owner that his \$70K airplane needs to have a \$25K flight data recorder installed, assuming the rest of his aircraft can actually provide that data? Look how much of a pain the ADS-B mandate was $\endgroup$ – selectstriker2 Jan 30 at 20:31
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    $\begingroup$ Just because they don't have an "all encompassing" black box, doesn't mean they don't have the basic equivalent of one. For example most GPS maps record data in the background, as well as things like ADS-B units. If these units survive enough to have the data extracted, they are used to build a "black box" to help investigators. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Jan 30 at 20:46
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    $\begingroup$ There are serious privacy concerns: Why should a private pilot, flying himself and his close buddies, be mandated to have private conversations recorded? What if he's discussing business dealings, or extra-marital affairs and a court tries to subpoena the black-box for something not related to aviation safety at all! $\endgroup$ – abelenky Jan 30 at 20:52

It would be very difficult to mandate new equipment into older aircraft. Look how much it took to mandate ADS-b. Mandating it into new or future built aircraft would be easier. We may try to incorporate the telemetry-like data we are getting now into some type of solution. Companies like Sentry and Stratus could design a portable unit that records all AHRS, GPS, traffic, cabin pressure altitude, and carbon monoxide presence data for less than $1000. Combine that with a personal electronic device like a tablet or smartphone and a patch cable or Bluetooth connector, and you have most of the capabilities of an FDR/CVR combo. It would not record the position of flight and engine controls, or engine performance data, however.

The use of this may be easier to mandate. $1000 is fairly reasonable in aviation economics.

Making it mandatory for ALL passenger and property carrying commercial flights may be more feasible and likely. The federal government would implement it under the auspices of protection of the consumer or for the good of the public.

  • $\begingroup$ It should be mandatory for all celebrity-carrying flights also. $\endgroup$ – rclocher3 Jan 30 at 22:11
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    $\begingroup$ @rclocher3: Why? I mean, what would the most sophisticated black boxes tell us, beyond the obvious (and unfortunately too common) flying lower than the tops of the hills in IMC conditions? $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jan 31 at 3:42
  • $\begingroup$ I was kidding @jamesqf. $\endgroup$ – rclocher3 Jan 31 at 4:47

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