Live Blackboxes: Requirements for Tracking and Verifying Aircraft in Motion

Yu, Yijun; Yang, Mu and Nuseibeh, Bashar (2017). Live Blackboxes: Requirements for Tracking and Verifying Aircraft in Motion. In: SCiA 2017 : 4th Software Challenges in Aerospace Symposium, 9-13 Jan 2017, Grapevine, Texas.



The Malaysian Airlines (MH370) aircraft went missing somewhere over the Indian Ocean two years ago. After intensive search since then, international team still has not been able to locate any first-hand evidence from the missing plane's flight data recorders (also known as 'blackboxes'). To mitigate similar problems, a proposal has been made to analyse live streamed flight data using cloud computing; however, satellite communication is constrained by bandwidth and scalability challenges. In this paper, we propose five requirements for addressing these challenges. These requirements frame a class of monitoring problems that share some similar accuracy concerns around safety and security. We evaluate these requirements to assess the readiness of the proposed technology - which we call "live blackboxes'' -- by using actual global scale data and performing an analysis of different live streaming intervals. Preprocessing with a locality-sensitive hashing function, it results in reduction of the required bandwidth by 4.75 times. Therefore, to track and verify all civilian aircraft in motion, the scalability requirement could be satisfied by satellite communications. While the paper focuses on a particular problem in air traffic management, we speculate similar requirements for the continuous monitoring of critical systems.

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