Leonardo DRS, Inc. announced it has been awarded a contract to develop upgraded Deployable Flight Incident Recorder Set (DFIRS) technology for new and in-service F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft.
The contract, awarded by The Boeing Company, will be executed by Leonardo DRS’ subsidiary, DRS Technologies Canada Ltd., in Kanata, Ontario.
The DFIRS system is a fully integrated deployable flight recorder system with an Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) that marks the aircraft’s location upon impact and immediately sends an emergency signal for search and rescue. The upgraded technology will include the latest in emergency locator, antenna and battery technologies and will provide extended available memory storage for flight data as well as the integration of a dual-frequency 243/406 MHz ELT. The system will also have extended transmission duration and battery life.
DRS’ DFIRS builds upon earlier generations of highly innovative deployable flight recorder technology originally developed by the National Research Council of Canada and brought to market by DRS Technologies Canada Ltd.
“We are proud to be able to provide this advanced life-saving technology for combat aircrews around the world,” said Martin Munro, Vice President and General Manager of DRS Technologies Canada, Ltd. “Boeing has been a pioneer in the adoption of deployable flight data recorders for military and tactical aircraft, and we are very pleased to continue our relationship to assist in the location and recovery of downed aircrews and the vital flight data,” Munro said.
The redesigned system will also ensure backwards compatibility, allowing current F/A-18 customers to take advantage of the new DFIRS without incurring modification to their in-service aircraft.
DFIRS has been standard equipment on F/A-18 model aircraft since 1992 with approximately 1400 units in service with the U.S. Navy and international customers including: Australia, Finland, Kuwait, Malaysia and Switzerland. Since its introduction, the DFIRS has been successively re-qualified for operational service on F/A-18E/F model Super Hornets and more recently the EA-18G model “Growlers.”
Unlike traditional ‘black boxes’, in the event of an accident, the Leonardo DRS innovative flight recorder deploys from the fuselage when the aircraft is in a crash profile and is able to float indefinitely. The Emergency Locator Transmitter broadcasts its location to international emergency search and rescue satellites within seconds of deployment.
DFIRS provides critical, life saving and time sensitive information to aid in the near immediate location of a downed aircraft, aids search and rescue resources to quickly locate and recover the aircraft and crew. The valuable flight data can be easily recovered in a timely manner without the need for underwater retrieval.
“The re-design of DFIRS is another superb example of government and industry working together to foster innovation with consequential improvements in aviation safety,” said Munro, “for example, critical ¼ scale wind tunnel testing of the F/A-18 DFIRS was performed at the NRC’s internationally recognized aerodynamics facility in Ottawa”.