Flight data recorders are installed on aircraft with the purpose of gathering flight information. FDRs have come a long way from the late 30s and early 60s to the present day, with several manufacturers existing on the market. Who are the leading flight data recorder manufacturers today?
Flight Data Recorders (FDR)
Flight recorders have been used on airliners for over 50 years. Their purpose has evolved to not only provide information for the purpose of accident investigation, but also provide data for flight safety and aircraft maintenance purposes. These devices are required by aviation regulatory authorities to be fitted on the majority of aircraft types for the safety of the crew and passengers, but the data they contain is extremely useful for maintenance purposes and to prevent incidents and accidents.
Since one of their uses is to provide information after an accident, they are designed to resist high impacts, extreme temperatures, and even prolonged exposure to water. Flight data recorders are painted in bright orange color so they are easy to locate in the event of a crash.
Cockpit Voice Recorders (CVR)
CVRs record the conversations of the pilots and flight deck ambient audio during a flight. The purpose of this is to identify potential issues occurring at the flight deck prior to an accident.
With both FDR and CVR, the cause of an accident can be determined by aircraft accident investigators. Some manufacturers have combined both recorders into a single unit, known as a “Combined Voice and Data Recorders” or CVDR.
Flight Data Recorder manufacturers
Honeywell is a company that has existed for over 100 years, creating navigation devices such as gyroscopes, vacuum tubes, aeronautical hydraulics, and several others; they even participated on the Manhattan Project.
The company takes pride on their multi-cultural staff, promoting a respect and appreciation for different backgrounds and perspectives. The services they provide come from manufacture of aircraft devices to logistics and management.
Their current FDR is the HFR5-D model with a ARINC 717 input designed for commercial aircraft and their mandatory flight-data recording. The device retains in solid-state the most recent 25 hours of the flight. The device fully satisfies the Minimum Operational Performance Specification for Crash Protected Airborne Recorder Systems as stated in ED-112.
- Dimensions: ½ ATR Long per ARINC 404A
- Weight: 12.8 lb maximum (Long), 10 lb typical
- Connector: DPX2-37065-12
- Crash Protected: Enclosure Compliant with TSO-124b Appendix 1 Figure 2
- Max Dimensions: a=3.6in
- Input voltage: 115 Vac, 360-800 Hz or +28 Vdc
- Power: 12 W maximum, 8 W typical
- ARINC 717 Data Rates: 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024 words per second (12 bits/word)
- Power on to recording delay: 500 milliseconds maximum
- Recording duration: 25 hours
Being a giant of the industry, it’s no surprise they also offer a CVDR as well, the HCR-25. This device allows operators to access the data at all times, aiding in maintenance predictability and operational insight through its big data. The company is proud to announce the device surpasses all of the upcoming 2021 European Aviation Safety Agency.
Founded on 1981 and headquartered on Tucson, Arizona on the United States; Universal Avionics specializes on avionics design, engineering, manufacturing, sales, and marketing & support. Among their primary product lines you can find enhanced flight vision systems, data-link/communications management, CVR and FDR, and several others.
Universal Avionics takes pride on being innovative on some of the industry’s products, out of which some are still considered a standard today. Among these you can find solid-state CVR, 80-minute cockpit voice recorder, scanning DME function, multi-sensor navigation systems, and several more.
Their current FDR is the FDR-25 model; however they also have their own CVDR CVFDR-145. The combined unit can record 120 minutes of cockpit chatter, and records the last 25 hours of flight data; and it of course meets the ED-112.
- Size: 6.1 in. (H) x 4.9 in. (W) x 8.0 in. (D)
- Weight with RIPS: 8.8 lbs
- Weight without RIPS: 8.2 lbs
- Power: 28 Vdc/115 Vac
- Mounting: Circular connector, bolt-down mount
FDR Manufacturer: Hensoldt
A company with a history of 125 years, Hensoldt is a leading supplier for platform independent devices across the air, sea, land and armed security worldwide. While they do work with civil and commercial aircraft, they also work with helicopters, military grade aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, ships & submarines, armored vehicles and satellites.
The company is named after Moritz Carl Hensoldt, a German pioneer of optics who developed several innovative products such as binoculars and telescopic sights. The company takes pride to continue this heritage. Among some of the company’s milestones are the successful pioneering of thermal images, the first generation of the missile warning system MILDS, establishing a data link between satellites in space, and several others.
Given the wide range of vehicles they work with, it makes sense for them to have multiple choices of CVDR for different purposes. Among their products are deploy-able and light weight devices for smaller aircraft or choppers. Please keep in mind the specifications for each of these.
Avionica is a Miami based airborne electronic device AS9100 certified manufacturer, who specializes in connectivity between aircraft and the ground team. Avionica takes pride on their work both with commercial and military customers worldwide, as well as their excellent customer service. Avionica qualifies under CFR 14 section 121 and their devices are currently working with over 8000 aircraft worldwide.
In addition to their U.S. based Sales Team, Avionica is represented by both resellers and agents with offices in India, Singapore, China, the United Kingdom, and Brazil. Their current FDR device is the mini QAR MK.II.
- Dimensions: 2.6”(L) x 2.2”(W) x 1.8”(H)
- Weight: 6.5 ounces
- Power: 28 VDC/100mA. or 115 VAC/25mA
- Data storage: 512 MB, 1GB, 2GB
- Software: DO178, Level D
Aircraft bus compatibility
- ARINC 573, ARINC 717 Biphase
- ARINC 717 Bipolar (64, 128, 256, & 512 WPS)
- MIL STD 1553 ARINC 429 RS-232
- Airbus A310, A320, A330
- ATR ATR-42, ATR-72
- Boeing 717, 727, 737, 747, 757, 767, F-18 Hornet
- Bombardier Dash-8 Q300, Q400, CRJ-200, Challenger 300 and 605
- Cessna Citation Bravo, Citation Excel
- Embraer 120, 135, 145, 179, 190
- Falcon 50, 900, 2000
- Fokker F100
- Gulfstream GIV, GV
- Lockheed C-140
- SAAB 2000
As mentioned before, there are several manufacturers and different products available for the same purpose. Given the purpose of this product leaves no room for error, the quality of these products must always be high. Ultimately, the choice should be made taking in account which of these manufacturers can offer your company the best possible deal, as well as keeping in mind both the software and hardware compatibility of each.
The manufacturers on this list were chosen not only for their good feedback and extensive experience, but also taking into consideration the amount of information provided both in their own portals, as well as third parties.