In the wake of an aircraft accident, one of the most sought-after pieces of the puzzle is the information contained on the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR), one of two "black boxes" (they're actually bright orange) that help investigators determine what went wrong.
Now comes word that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the agency charged with rendering commercial aviation safe, is changing the rules governing CVRs. All larger passenger airliners will be required to carry CVRs capable of recording two hours of conversation. The current requirement is for 30 minutes.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is the agency charged with investigating airline accidents. While praising FAA for its new reg, NTSB says it falls short, "by not requiring that older 30-minute CVRs be replaced on existing commuter and corporate jet aircraft." That would include craft such as the ubiquitous ERJ-145 and CRJ-200.
Another thing that concerns the Safety Board is the FAA's decision not to require that older airliners be retro-fitted with an emergency ten-minute power supply that would power the CVR should regular electrical power fail. Newly manufactured airliners will have to have the emergency back-up, but not those craft already up there.
Why is this important? Investigators would have had more valuable CVR data from two notorious crashes "” ValuJet Flight 592 and Swissair Flight 111 "” had such gear been in place.
"Flight recorders have proven themselves invaluable in providing critical information during accident and incident investigations," says Mark V. Rosenker, NTSB Acting Chairman. While he's happy to see some changes for the better he indicates there's a way to go, including enactment of Safety Board recommendations that cockpits be equipped with image recorders.
Original NTSB Press Release regarding recorder enhancements:
NTSB Praises Flight Recorder Enhancements; Notes Some Shortcomings In New FAA Rule
National Transportation Safety Board
Release date: October 17, 2008
Washington, DC - The National Transportation Safety Board has told the Federal Aviation Administration that many elements of its new rule dealing with aircraft flight recorders comply with previous NTSB recommendations, but noted that some of its recommendations were not adopted.
The FAA issued a final rule, titled "Revisions to Cockpit Voice Recorder and Digital Flight Data Recorder Regulations," earlier this year. After reviewing the rule, the NTSB this week classified several recommendations referenced in the rule.
The Board was pleased to see that all larger passenger airliners will be required to carry 2-hour cockpit voice recorders (CVRs), greatly expanding the current 30-minute requirement. But the rule stopped short by not requiring that older 30-minute CVRs be replaced on existing commuter and corporate jet aircraft. The FAA did require that newly manufactured commuter and corporate jets come equipped with 2-hour CVRs. Recommendation A-96-171 was closed "Acceptable Action."
The Board had asked that airliners be retrofitted with CVRs that had an emergency 10-minute power supply in case of an electrical interruption, such as occurred on ValuJet flight 592 in 1996 and Swiss Air flight 111 in 1998. The FAA agreed that newly manufactured airliners be so equipped but declined to require retrofits. The Board acknowledged that a retrofit rule might have posed a roadblock for regulatory approval for the rule, so classified recommendation A-99-16 "Closed - Acceptable Alternative Action."
The Board closed as unacceptable action A-96-89, which called for certain configurations of microphones and dedicated channels in airliner cockpits, and A-99-17, which called for dual combination recorders, one in the front and one in the back of the plane.
"Flight recorders have proven themselves invaluable in providing crucial information during accident and incident investigations," NTSB Acting Chairman Mark V. Rosenker said. "While I am happy to see that some of the enhancements we've been advocating for years are being adopted by the FAA, I again urge the FAA to act on the Board's recommendations for cockpit image recorders, which were not addressed in the new rule."
The new rule calls for increased flight control position sampling rates on flight recorders, which should improve the quality of data available to investigators.
Improvements in flight recorders has been on the Board's list of Most Wanted Transportation Safety Improvements since 1999.
Name: National Transportation Safety Board
Address: 490 L'Enfant Plaza, SW
Today I decided to sit down and play with my computer in front of the TV, which I usually hate. It is a Sunday evening and I am enjoying the last spill of the weekend. As soon as I sit down a program called Mayday showed up on TV, and the episode email@example.com was about Swissair 111 flight. I am not sure if you knew about it or if you have already discussed it in this forum, but being always suspicious of what the TV brings I decided to google my was alongside the program. You know, the usual stuff: Wikipedia, google, etc. That is how I found this website. I have read many of your entries as well as some other's, but not all.
I have 3 thoughts I would like firstname.lastname@example.org to share with you.
First, I would like to say that I think you are a great mother even 10 years after your daughter has left our world. Your website might actually have more value than what you would think. For instance, I would recommend it for any person who lost a child to show how one can "breath out" the pain and feel they are still worth their existence even after loosing a loved one. And the very replies you are getting from people shows that you do exist and you do have value in the mind of people very likely you would never cross.
Secondly, I always find comforting to think that in 150 years from now, every single person on earth that is breathing as you read my comments will be dead. You, me, the baby who was just born this minute, criminals, judges who sentenced him, the policeman, Barack Obama.. Everybody! That reality always helps me realise that what we consider as a disaster is actually a normal course of life, inevitable and expectable. People die for many reasons, some of them are "normal" and some are not, but at the end of the day, we will all move-on to the next step –depending on what you believe in after death. When Mother Nature seems determined to end someone's life it does so no matter where they are or how they are or how they would die. It seems that it is just bound to happen. Furthermore, we are more likely to be forgotten in 150 years than not. So us, our loved ones, and everyone we cross no the street are likely to be as significant as a medicine in a blind man's eye. This helps put losses of loved ones into perspective and shift the focus towards what is left for us in this life instead of what we have lost.
The 3rd thing and probably the most important is that if you asked yourself "how would your daughter have wanted you to go on with your life" you would certainly think she wants you to keep positive and ensure that her death is not yours as well. You have showed enough in this blog that would suggest you are doing that, and I hope I am right on this point. We all have the right to cry the lost ones and to mourn them, but for the sake of these same people we must not fall into the negative corners and we must satisfy their wishes of making their death only one death, not two. I know it is sometimes easier said than done but if one really cares about the lost ones, they should live for them and make sure that their arrival and departure from this life was not worthless. A blog like this one makes your daughter's and your own arrival and departure from this earth worth it.
Good on you for that. I wish you the best for the rest of your life. I truly wish you that!
Rad, thanks so much for one of the most thoughtful posts, I've ever had on this site. Your words remind me that it really is worthwhile to continue to have this forum all these years later. You've given me a lot to think about.
Airworthiness Directives; Boeing Model 767-200, -300, and -400ER Series Airplanes
AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), DOT.
ACTION: Final rule.
SUMMARY: We are adopting a new airworthiness directive (AD) for certain Boeing Model 767-
200, -300, and -400ER series airplanes. This AD requires installing new relay(s), circuit breakers as applicable, and wiring to allow the flightcrew to turn off electrical power to the in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems and certain circuit breakers through a utility bus switch, and doing other specified actions. This AD results from an IFE systems review. We are issuing this AD to ensure that the flight crew is able to turn off electrical power to IFE systems and other non-essential electrical
systems through a switch in the flight compartment. The flightcrew's inability to turn off power to IFE systems and other non-essential electrical systems during a non-normal or emergency situation could result in the inability to control smoke or fumes in the airplane flight deck or cabin.
DATES: This AD is effective December 26, 2008.
Request To Clarify Analysis and Background of the IFE System Review
JAL states that the technical analysis and engineering background of the IFE system should be clearly explained in the NPRM. JAL also states that the NPRM does not clearly address Transistor Transistor Logic (TTL) power consumption, location or quantity of the units, operation during flight, or system shutdown in the event of smoke. For example, JAL points out that the ''Discussion'' sectionof the NPRM states that the IFE review did not consider systems that provide only audio signals to
each passenger seat or the passenger flight information system, and in-seat power supply (ISPS) systems that provide power to less than 20 percent of the total passenger seats. JAL states that the NPRM provides no engineering analysis as to why 40 seats with an ISPS system are a concern on a 150-seat airplane, while 60 seats with an ISPS system on a 350-seat airplane is not a concern. JAL also states that this kind of definition leads to confusion (including IFE development and configuration in the future). JAL also states that the technical definition and background on safety must be clear and properly understood by everyone.
We infer that JAL requests that we clarify the analysis and background of the IFE system review, and we agree to provide clarification. The ''Discussion'' section of the NPRM provides the background information that led to FAA regulatory actions requiring the removal of power from complex IFE system installations in the event of smoke or fire, without affecting other systems essential for safe flight and landing and without the use of circuit breakers for power removal. JAL's concerns related to TTL power consumption, etc., are immaterial to correcting the unsafe condition, which is the inability to disconnect power from the IFE system in the event of smoke or fire. The FAA study focused on IFE installations that are complex in terms of electrical circuitry and power demands. This study excluded non-essential systems that are simple in design and demand low power for operation. Due to the large number of ISPS installations, we reviewed only those ISPS installations that provided power to more than 20 percent of the total passenger seats. However, the requirements of this AD apply to all airplanes that have any seats equipped with power supplies. The applicability of this AD is not limited only airplanes having more than 20 percent of the passenger seats equipped with power supplies. No change to the AD is necessary in this regard.
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