EASA Proposes New Rules for Flight Recorders, Beacons

AIN Air Transport Perspective » May 12, 2014
DK180 low frequency acoustic beacon
The DK180 low-frequency acoustic beacon from Dukane Seacom emits an 8.8 kHz acoustic signal. (Photo: Dukane Seacom)
May 6, 2014, 4:15 PM

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has proposed amending requirements for underwater locating devices (ULDs) and cockpit voice recorders (CVRs) to substantially extend their transmission and recording times. In an announcement on May 6, the agency cited the March 8 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 as justifying the changes, which it first floated last December.

The new rules, which must be adopted by the European Commission, would require a threefold increase, from 30 to 90 days, in the transmission time of ULDs attached to the flight data recorders of commercial transport aircraft after January 2018. The recording time of CVRs would be increased tenfold, from two to 20 hours, for large aircraft issued an individual certificate of airworthiness after January 2020.

EASA also proposes that large aircraft flying overwater routes be equipped with new 8.8 kHz ULDs by January 2019. The low-frequency devices, recommended by a “flight data recovery” working group of France’s BEA accident investigation bureau following the loss of Air France Flight 447 in June 2009, have longer underwater range than the 37.5 kHz ULDs currently required. Alternatively, an aircraft may be equipped with a means to determine the location of an accident within 6 nm accuracy, EASA said.

The changes to existing requirements were outlined in a notice of proposed amendment the agency published on December 20, before the multinational search for MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean. EASA, based in Cologne, Germany, said it received 75 comments by the end of the consultation period on March 20.

“The tragic flight of Malaysia Airlines MH370 demonstrates that safety can never be taken for granted,” said EASA executive director Patrick Ky. “The proposed changes are expected to increase safety by facilitating the recovery of information by safety investigation authorities.”

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