Maxwell and L3 to Demo Black Box IPSApril 22, 1999 by Jeff Shepard
Maxwell Technologies Inc. (San Diego) and L-3 Communications (New York, NY), a manufacturer of "black box" voice and data recorders, have been invited by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to demonstrate an independent power supply (IPS) incorporating Maxwell PowerCache ultracapacitors to provide backup power to continue recording for at least 10 minutes if aircraft power systems fail.The demonstration will be conducted as part of an NTSB-sponsored international symposium on transportation recorders, which will be held May 3-5, 1999. In congressional testimony last month, NTSB Chairman Jim Hall recommended that the Federal Aviation Administration adopt new regulations to require that flight data recorders be upgraded to increase recording capacity and incorporate capacity and incorporate an independent power supply.During his testimony, Hall stated that, "Capacitors are the preferred energy storage option for independent power supplies. They offer long life and high reliability, even compared to rechargeable batteries. Independent power supplies will need to operate the flight recorders for a minimum of 10 minutes and be cycled each time the plane lands. Capacitors are the best option for these load requirements."Maxwell stated that it has been working with L-3's Aviation Recorders division and other flight data recorder manufacturers for some time. Maxwell's PowerCache ultracapacitors are capable of being discharged and recharged hundreds of thousands of times with little or no effect on performance, and will operate effectively within a broad temperature range, according to the company.Maxwell CEO Tom Horgan commented, "We agree with NTSB's conclusion that capacitors are the best IPS option for black boxes, and we are prepared to work with Aviation Recorders and other manufacturers to meet the demand that would be created by a requirement that they be incorporated into all flight voice and data recorders.