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June 2006 edition

A faster way to deal with aircraft accidents waiting to happen

By Kenneth G. Blemel

The film Minority Report starring Tom Cruise foreshadowed a world where murders never took place. Authorities were able to see into the future and catch the killers before they could commit the crime.

Pilots of the 'now generation' of military aircraft, and the 'coming generation' of passenger aircraft, will be able to change the future in real life. Equipment is already in production that will not only identify faults as they happen but warn of potential future problems and advise how to avoid them happening.

The ability to do this is not new - but it has reached an interesting stage with significant advances in speed, continuous monitoring and big savings in the weight of recorders. In short, the equipment needed to prevent accidents waiting to happen is becoming lighter, faster and more effective.

Ten years of funded research by Management Sciences Inc. has developed four technologies that can be combined to anticipate and prevent damage as well as cure it. They provide speed over single wires, as opposed to several, continuous monitoring facility, and the D3 Flight Information Recorder can save up to 70 kilos in recorder weight.

The four technologies are:

* Sentient Reasoning, a high level data fusion that enables understanding in context:

* Sentient Wiring, a new breed of aircraft wiring that takes about one-third the weight off the usual wiring of the airframe while facilitating embedded diagnostics and prognostics:

* D3 Flight Information Recorder, a PC-based fl....

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Management Sciences Inc. Engine Health Monitoring, Electrical Wire & Cable, Flight Recorders, Electronic Flight Instrument Systems

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