Quick Access Recorder (QAR)



Quick access recorder

Airlines elect to install quick access recorders (QARs) in their fleets to enable routine monitoring of aircraft systems and flight crew performance. The QAR is installed in an easily accessible location, such as the avioncs bay, whereas the FDR and CVR are often located in a difficult-to-access location like the tail of the aircraft. Unlike the CVR and FDR, the QAR is not required to be installed by regulation. The parameters recorded by the QAR can be configured by the airline or they can be the same as the parameters recorded on the FDR. Unlike the CVR and FDR, QAR's can be downloaded easily and do not require specialist equipment. The recording media for QAR's has evolved as follows:

  • Magnetic tape cartridges
  • Magneto-optical disks
  • Solid-state memory (e.g. PCMCIA cards or CF memory)

Traditionally the recording cartridge/disk needed to be removed from each aircraft on a regular basis before the recording capacity was reached and data was lost. The cartridge/disk was then transferred to the readout facility (typically the flight safety department) where each cartridge/disk was individually handled and replayed. After replay, the cartridges/disks were stored for a sufficiently long period to allow for any necessary follow-up analysis, then reformatted and sent to stores for eventual return to an aircraft. There was an obvious cost in acquiring sufficient cartridges/disks for this cycle and the manpower involved in retrieval and replay.

Wireless technology is now being used to transmit QAR data without the need for manual handling. This lowers the cost of data recovery and increase the timeliness and availability of the data. After landing, the QAR data is compressed, encrypted and securely transmitted to the airline via the mobile phone network.