DC3 shares findings to save lives

  • Published
  • By Leah Pekofsky
  • Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center

The butterfly effect occurs when a butterfly flaps its wings somewhere in the world resulting in a huge change somewhere else.

That premise served as the impetus behind a briefing April 27, 2017, given by Department of Defense Cyber Crime Center Damaged Media Recovery expert Mr. Scott Lalliss to Lt. Col. Frank A. Biancardi II, the pilot of a B-1B bomber whose data recorder Lalliss recovered after the plane crashed in Montana in August 2013.

Biancardi reached out to DC3 via its public affairs office, and received a briefing on how Lalliss extracted the information from the memory of the plane’s data recorder after it was damaged in the crash.  

Lalliss is familiar with Solid State Drives, the format the information was in. He was able to see immediately, with one of DC3’s x-ray machines that some of the connections on the circuit board were damaged, and he would need to pull the chips off the board and attach them to a new one in order to retrieve the data.  

However, he needed some donor parts, so he reached out to engineers at Boeing, who provided additional damaged SSDs to see if they would help. Lalliss repaired one of the SSDs to host the chips from the aircraft data recorder, to experiment with solvents to dissolve a protective coating on the chips and to transfer the chips. He now had a complete SSD he could extract the data from. He got 100 percent data extraction from his repaired SSD, from which the Safety Investigation Board was able to determine it was a fuel leak that caused the crash.

This finding allowed the Air Force to inspect all B-1B bombers, discover what caused the leak, and make the needed repair. It ensured incidents like this one are prevented in the future.

Biancardi and his crew were lucky to survive the crash.

“What I’m doing with this additional life I’ve been given is thanking people,” Biancardi told Lalliss after his presentation. “Thank you for the work you’ve done to help save additional lives.”  

If it weren’t for Lalliss’s skilled examination and knowledge of how to extract data from damaged media, and the equipment available to him at DC3, the cause of the crash may not have been detected and the hardware issued may have claimed the lives of other Airmen.  

DC3’s “butterfly” effort meant a life-saving safety change for the Air Force.

Established in 1998, DC3 uniquely integrates focused capabilities for optimum results. For more information about DC3 services, visit its website: www.dc3.mil , email: info@dc3.mil or call (410) 981-6610.