CGI to lead the development of a cloud-based flight data recorder

CGI has been awarded a contract by the European Space Agency (ESA) to lead the development of a cloud-based Universal Virtual Flight Data Recorder (UVFDR).

The Montreal-based company has been delivering space software systems supporting satellite navigation, communications, and operations for over 40 years.

The virtual flight data recorder will replicate the function of traditional crash-protected flight data recorder (“Black Box”) in a cloud-based environment, enabling access to data almost immediately in case of an emergency, incident, or accident.

Built using CGI’s TrustedFabric, a proprietary blockchain solution for storage of sensitive data, the system is scalable and is planned to be made available globally for use on any aircraft equipped to send engineering telemetry and operational data to the ground.

“Understanding the cause of an air-related incident is vital to helping improve flight safety, and indispensable for those impacted and their families,” said Neil Timms, CGI’s senior vice president, Space, Defence and Intelligence for UK & Australia. “CGI is proud to be working with ESA, whilst building on our heritage in safe, secure cloud, to develop a virtual flight recording service that allows any suitably equipped aircraft to send flight data to a secure cloud storage facility.”

The system can be used on its own on a smaller aircraft, or alongside traditional recorders on aircraft that are legally required to carry them. But CGI noted that, in either case, the UVFDR is designed to meet the Global Aeronautic Distress and Safety System (GADSS) requirements.

Overview of GADSS and its three main functions

The technology, the company added, shows the potential to support additional services, like improved technical support for aircraft in flight, flight recording solutions for remotely piloted vehicles, and airspace data integration services for air navigation service providers. 

“The system will not only provide assured truth data required by investigations, but it can also detect and flag potentially unsafe situations before they occur,” said Li Wen-Chin of the Safety and Accident Investigation Centre at Cranfield University, UK. “Our vision of the future is that flight crews in abnormal situations have access to much better support than what’s presently possible.”

To develop the global UVFDR service, the company and other stakeholders will use the increasing availability of satellite data communications bandwidth and the growing amount of aircraft equipment, such as Quick Access Recorders (QAR), that is capable of transmitting flight data.

For this, CGI will work with ESA, Code Magus, Cranfield University, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and industry stakeholders SatAuth and others.

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Ashee Pamma
Ashee Pamma
Ashee is a writer for ITWC. She completed her degree in Communication and Media Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa. She hopes to become a columnist after further studies in Journalism. You can email her at [email protected]

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