FAA Wants To Increase Recording Times On CVRs To 25 Hours


The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is proposing to extend cockpit voice recorders (CVRs) recording time to 25 hours for all newly manufactured aircraft that require them, according to a press release issued today (Nov. 30).

Existing regulations require CVRs, commonly known as black boxes, to record a minimum of two hours before new data begins to overwrite the previous recording. A summary of the agency’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) states that increasing the recording time would “provide accident investigators, aircraft operators, and civil aviation authorities with substantially more cockpit voice recorder data to help find the probable causes of incidents and accidents, prevent future incidents and accidents, and make the FAA’s regulations more consistent with existing international requirements.”

The announcement comes as the agency pledged to take action on the issue during a safety summit in March. Meanwhile, the NTSB has been calling for the change since 2018 but pressed the importance after a spate of close calls involving commercial aircraft this year. In six of those cases, CVR data was unavailable.

“This rule will give us substantially more data to identify the causes of incidents and help prevent them in the future,” said FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker.

The proposed rule is set to be published in the Federal Register on Dec. 4 and the public will have 60 days to comment.

Amelia Walsh
Amelia Walsh is a private pilot who enjoys flying her family’s Columbia 350. She is based in Colorado and loves all things outdoors including skiing, hiking, and camping.


  1. 25 hours? What is the possible justification for that? No single flight lasts longer than 10. This would enable fishing expeditions for non-incident flights, perhaps days before an incident flight.

    • Some overseas flights last 15 hours or so. They probably just said that at least the last 24 hours would be useful. What about the Data recorders? Seems that would be more useful in an investigation.

    • What *possible* justification? How about having enough more to ensure that the audio from a flight does not get overwritten? Sure, you can quibble about the number, but 25 hours seems not unreasonable as a safe figure.

      If you’ve followed accident investigations, you would have noted that sometimes they go over the tapes to see what happened on earlier flights that day with that crew and discover matters of concern for the NTSB investigation.

    • There have been instances when they didn’t go after the recordings for some time, (such as in near mid-airs). Time enough for the recordings to be recorded over by subsequent flights.

  2. I can imagine a number of scenarios involving incidents if not accidents where access to the CVR isn’t possible until much later.

  3. This mostly stems from the idiots that taxied in front of a departing aircraft at JFK. The departing aircraft had to do an emergency stop to avoid them. That aircraft then taxied back to the terminal probably to change their shorts while the culprits continued their flight plans and headed to Europe. All of that recording of them discussing whatever instead of a sterile cockpit and not paying attention was overwritten as they continued their flight across the pond.
    Well needed from my perspective.

  4. Limits of the technology at the time primarily dictated the previous standard. Today you might as well specify two weeks of recording time.

  5. The Flight Data Recorder (FDR) captures 25 hours of data. There’s no good reason the CVR shouldn’t do the same. In the past, there were technical problems with having enough actual tape (yes, magnetic tape) in the recorder to store that much audio, and then early digital recorders couldn’t have enough memory capacity because memory hardware was too expensive. Those technical barriers no longer exist.

  6. The FAA is so far behind the times. Every cellphone location, text, call, photo and most everything else is recorded indefinitely. CVR and FDR are so obsolete. The technology is totally available for the instantaneous transmission of all data to a server. The investigators wouldn’t even have to leave their cubical to acquire ALL data within minutes of an accident/incident. Just more proof that the FAA is spending all our money on pronoun identification instead of safety.