Tougher Black Boxes Mandated for Commercial Aircraft

One of the first questions asked after a commercial airline crash is whether the plane's "black boxes" have been recovered intact, preserving cockpit conversations and flight data before the crash for crash investigators. The Federal Aviation Administration published a final rule March 7 to improve the recorders -- basing it on recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board after several crashes, including EgyptAir flight 990 in the ocean off Nantucket, Mass., on Oct. 31, 1999, and ValuJet Airlines flight 592 in the Florida Everglades on May 11, 1996 -- in airplanes and helicopters with 10 or more seats. Soon, their voice recorders must capture the last two hours of cockpit audio instead of the current 15-30 minutes and must have an independent backup power source to allow continued recording for 9-11 minutes if all aircraft power sources are lost or interrupted. Data recorders must capture the last 25 hours of recorded information.

FAA said airplanes (but not helicopters) operating under Parts 121, 125, or 135 of its regulations must retrofit some equipment by March 7, 2012. The rule requires the upgrades to be installed on all newly built aircraft and helicopters after March 7, 2010. Some stakeholders opposed the changes in part or in their entirety, and the Air Line Pilots Association said the rule should have contained privacy protections for crew members whose conversations are recorded, according to the rule.

"Because this is the safest period in aviation history, we now have to be able to analyze each accident in greater detail," said Robert Sturgell, FAA's acting administrator. "These enhancements will give us more information about the causes of accidents and find ways to avoid them in the future."

The rule (www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/recently_published/media/23532.DOC) says voice recorders also must use solid state technology instead of magnetic tape, which is vulnerable to damage and loss of reliability, and it formalizes current FAA policy that voice and data recorders must be housed in separate units (excluding helicopters) such that no single electrical failure can disable them.

Download Center

HTML - No Current Item Deck
  • Get the Ultimate Guide to OSHA Recordkeeping

    OSHA’s Form 300A posting deadline is February 1! Are you prepared? To help answer your key recordkeeping questions, IndustrySafe put together this guide with critical compliance information.

  • Steps to Conduct a JSA

    We've put together a comprehensive step-by-step guide to help you perform a job safety analysis (JSA), which includes a pre-built, JSA checklist and template, steps of a JSA, list of potential job hazards, and an overview of hazard control hierarchy.

  • Everything You Need to Know about Incident investigations

    Need some tips for conducting an incident investigation at work after there’s been an occupational injury or illness, or maybe even a near miss? This guide presents a comprehensive overview of methods of performing incident investigations to lead you through your next steps.

  • Free Safety Management Software Demo

    IndustrySafe Safety Management Software helps organizations to improve safety by providing a comprehensive toolset of software modules to help businesses identify trouble spots; reduce claims, lost days, OSHA fines; and more.

  • Industry Safe

OH&S Digital Edition

  • OHS Magazine Digital Edition - November December 2020

    November December 2020

    Featuring:

    • COLD STRESS
      Managing Cold Stress
    • TRAINING: FALL PROTECTION
      Providing Training for Fall Protection
    • PPE: HEARING PROTECTION
      Eight Tips for Hearing Testing Day
    • FACILITY SECURITY
      Incorporating COVID-19 Protections into Safety Programs
    View This Issue