Successful test flight validates Fredonia professor’s invention

SUNY Research Foundation
photo of drone flying

Successful drone flight on the Fredonia campus.

A revolutionary technology developed at SUNY Fredonia that has the potential to render the aircraft flight recorder (AKA the “black box”) obsolete achieved a major milestone on its path to commercialization – a successful test flight. 

Junaid Zubairi, professor of Computer and Information Sciences, designed a real-time system for tracking and saving flight data on ground servers that is otherwise only stored in a plane's flight data recorder. The software would eliminate the need, following a crash, to mount what can be an expensive and time-consuming search to recover the flight data recorder that stores the vital information. 

Dr. Zubairi received a patent — the first for a high-tech invention at Fredonia — for the Tracker on Aug. 1, 2017. The patent covers the novel radio routing feature that keeps transmission cost down. 

With support from the SUNY Research Foundation and the Fredonia Technology Incubator, Dr. Zubairi has been taking the steps needed to commercialize his research. He founded Advanced Data Research Labs, a client of the incubator, to create a prototype of the Flight Data Tracker and test it in a laboratory environment, a key step leading to validation of its technology. 

The next step was to test the Flight Data Tracker in the air. “We sent the flight data recorder with its sensors and an arduino board on a drone and our Flight Data Tracker software received and plotted the data in real-time,” said Dr. Zubairi.

Watch the Flight Data Tracker plot the drone’s altitude online…

“Recent mishaps in aviation have highlighted the need to monitor, track and control the flights in real-time as much as possible,” said Zubairi. “It’s exciting to see the Flight Data Tracker advance.”

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