Key Points:

  • The FAA is proposing a new rule to extend the cockpit voice recording time in new planes from two hours to 25 hours.

  • This move aims to preserve vital information in close-call aviation incidents, following cases where crucial data was lost.

  • The proposed rule aligns U.S. standards with those in Europe, enhancing investigative capabilities in aviation incidents.

FAA to Introduce Extended Recording Time in Cockpit Voice Recorders

WASHINGTON D.C — U.S. regulators are set to propose a new requirement for aircraft manufacturers: extending the cockpit voice recorder duration to 25 hours in new planes. The current standard, set at two hours, has been deemed insufficient in capturing crucial information during close-call incidents. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) plans to publish this proposal in the Federal Register, offering a 60-day public commenting period before finalizing the rule.

The FAA's initiative, initially hinted at earlier this spring, comes in the wake of incidents where investigators struggled to uncover pilot actions and conversations due to the limited recording time. A notable example occurred in January at John F. Kennedy International Airport, where an American Airlines plane crossed a runway without clearance, causing a Delta Air Lines flight to abort takeoff. Unfortunately, the cockpit recorder had overwritten valuable data after two hours, leaving investigators in the dark about the pilots' actions and discussions.
Aligning with International Standards

European Regulations Set Precedent for 25-Hour Recording Requirement

This proposed change by the FAA aligns U.S. aviation standards with those already established in Europe. European regulators mandate that new aircraft exceeding a certain weight have cockpit recorders capable of preserving voice and engine sounds for up to 25 hours. This uniformity in standards is expected to bolster global aviation safety efforts.

Cockpit voice recorders, one of the two critical black boxes in aircraft, play an indispensable role in crash and incident investigations. By extending the recording time, the FAA aims to ensure more comprehensive data collection, enabling a deeper understanding of events leading to accidents or near misses. FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker emphasized the importance of this rule change, stating it will significantly aid in identifying causes of incidents and preventing future occurrences.
Enhancing Investigative Capabilities

Extended Recording to Provide More Data for Safety Analysis

The proposed extension of recording time in cockpit voice recorders is set to provide investigators with a more extensive dataset, crucial for analyzing the factors leading to aviation incidents. This enhancement is expected to contribute significantly to understanding and mitigating risks in aviation operations.

As the FAA moves forward with this regulatory change, the input from the public and airline industry segments will be crucial. The 60-day commenting period allows for a diverse range of perspectives, ensuring that the final rule is well-considered and effective in meeting its safety objectives. This collaborative approach marks a proactive step in the continuous pursuit of aviation safety improvements.