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Data Storage The Internet Transportation Hardware

Boeing 787s To Create Half a Terabyte of Data Per Flight 213

Qedward writes "Virgin Atlantic is preparing for a significant increase in data as it embraces the Internet of Things, with a new fleet of highly connected planes each expected to create over half a terabyte of data per flight. IT director David Bulman said: 'The latest planes we are getting, the Boeing 787s, are incredibly connected. Literally every piece of that plane has an internet connection, from the engines, to the flaps, to the landing gear. If there is a problem with one of the engines we will know before it lands to make sure that we have the parts there. It is getting to the point where each different part of the plane is telling us what it is doing as the flight is going on. We can get upwards of half a terabyte of data from a single flight from all of the different devices which are internet connected.'"
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Boeing 787s To Create Half a Terabyte of Data Per Flight

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 07, 2013 @05:11AM (#43102463)

    It would be cool if one could play back that data in a flight simulator to recreate the flight.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 07, 2013 @05:46AM (#43102569)

    Sufficient data for playing back flights in simulators has been recorded by the black boxes for a couple of decades already. It's done to evaluate the crew's actions (and compare those with what they've been trained to do) as well as to test if alternative actions could've prevented the accident. A good example was Swissair 111 (in 1998) which had a fire on board and crashed before the crew could land the aircraft. The crew didn't even try to get it to the nearest airport as fast as they could because they wanted to dump fuel, prepare the cabin and were reluctant to land at the very closest airport at first since they wanted one with Swissair mechanics. As part of the investigation crews in simulators got exactly the same fire scenario at the same point and among other things tested if they had been able to reach the airport if they didn't dump fuel and land overweight. In those scenarios too, however, it would've taken too long from the point the fire was first detected.

  • by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:00AM (#43102639)

    I was hoping that too but the following quote seems to indicate there is some access from the ground.

    If there is a problem with one of the engines we will know before it lands to make sure that we have the parts there.

    I just hope they can only see information and have no control from the ground.

  • by martin ( 1336 ) <maxsec@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:23AM (#43102717) Journal

    Have been doing this for years. They constantly stream data to RR HQ and theres a team of highly experienced people watching the data. []

  • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardprice@gm a i l . com> on Thursday March 07, 2013 @06:24AM (#43102721)

    This isn't exactly new - Rolls Royce, GE and Pratt & Whitney all do "power by the hour" rented engines, which are permanently connected (allowing for coverage issues) to data receiver centers which manage them. If they need maintenance, are running hot or have a vibration issue (its amazing how much you can discern about an engine due to its vibration levels), the engine manufacturer can determine before the flight has even ended whether or not the engine needs that maintenance at that point, needs replacing, or can suffice until the aircraft can be rotated to a full maintenance center to be swapped out.

    On PBTH engines, its typical that the airline will be called by the manufacturer to report the issue before the crew flying the aircraft ever notices anything.

    Its also a service engine purchasing airlines can select.

  • by Required Snark ( 1702878 ) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @08:34AM (#43103177)
    In less then two minutes on Google I found this article with a description of the 787 on-board network: []

    The Core Network, which is standard on the 787, uses computing servers and networks based on commercial open standards. It also has a variety of third-party applications to manage the onboard data flow to improve airline efficiency. The Common Data Network (CDN from Rockwell Collins is a, bi-directional copper and fiber optic network that utilizes ARINC 664 standards and protocols to manage the data flowing between the 787's onboard systems. It is based on Ethernet technology and enabled for avionics systems. The CDN has higher data rates, expanded connectivity, and reductions in overall aircraft weight when it is contrasted with point to point topologies, Rockwell Collins officials say.

    Another quick search on ARINC 664 yields the following: []

    AFDX is a next-generation aircraft data network (ADN). It is based upon IEEE 802.3 Ethernet and utilizes commercial off-the-shelf hardware thereby reducing costs and development time. AFDX is one implementation of deterministic Ethernet defined by ARINC Specification 664 Part 7. AFDX was developed by Airbus Industries for the A380, initially to address real-time issues for flight-by-wire system development. A similar implementation of deterministic Ethernet is used on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. AFDX bridges the gap on reliability of guaranteed bandwidth from the original ARINC 664 standard. It utilizes a cascaded star topology network, where each switch can be bridged together to other switches on the network. By utilizing this form of network structure, AFDX is able to significantly reduce wire runs thus reducing overall aircraft weight. Additionally, AFDX provides dual link redundancy and Quality of Service (QoS).

    So both the Airbus 380 and the 787 use COTS hardware and Ethernet, as does the Internet. Although slightly sloppy, describing the network as an "internet" is technically correct. Asserting that the data is "bloated XML" or that their is bad scripting, spam or cookies involved is grossly stupid.

    I have worked with previous ARINC formats, and the data is very compact. It fact, it is positively cryptic, and generally you use software to turn it into a more human friendly form, like a line graph. So if there is a half terabyte per flight, it is all "real" data. Any of the posts that assume otherwise are a combination of arrogance and ignorance, which is typical for what passes as comments on Slashdot these days. Hence my sig:

  • by mhajicek ( 1582795 ) on Thursday March 07, 2013 @09:04AM (#43103369)
    Even if you can't get at anything on the plane, it could be possible to hijack and falsify the telemetry. You could keep telling maintenance that the engine is just fine even though it's in trouble, so it doesn't get the service it needs.

This process can check if this value is zero, and if it is, it does something child-like. -- Forbes Burkowski, CS 454, University of Washington