Comments for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA’s) proposed rule to increase cockpit voice recorder (CVR) times closed Friday with mixed reaction from industry representatives in the 99 comments received.
The Dec. 4 notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) would extend the CVR recording time to 25 hours for all newly manufactured aircraft. According to the FAA, the increase would provide investigators, operators and aviation authorities with more comprehensive data to determine the causes of incidents and accidents, while making the FAA’s regulations more consistent with existing international requirements. Under the current two-hour requirement, CVR data covering aviation incidents is often overwritten before investigators can get access to it.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has been advocating for the change since 2018, but given the spate of close calls involving commercial aircraft in the last year, the issue has once again come to the forefront. The NTSB said the rule doesn’t go far enough as it “does not propose a similar requirement to retrofit existing airplanes required to carry a CVR and a flight data recorder (FDR).”
Several organizations including FedEx, the Cargo Airline Association, Regional Airline Association, Alaska Airlines and Helicopter Association International have all expressed their support for the rule.
Meanwhile, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents 77,000 pilots from 43 airlines, stressed the need for additional CVR protections to be in place before moving forward. ALPA proposed measures such as indefinite maintenance of CVR recordings by the NTSB, permanent deletion of the recording medium returned to the aircraft operator, and restrictions on the use of recordings or transcripts for administrative or disciplinary proceedings.
The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA), which represents 35,000 airline pilots from American Airlines, UPS, NetJets, Atlas Air and Republic Airlines among others, has strongly opposed the rule. CAPA says its primary concerns are related to the misuse of CVR recordings by entities outside of the FAA and NTSB such as law enforcement investigations.