FAA Mandates Better Voice and Flight Data Recorders
The FAA is mandating updated aircraft cockpit voice and flight data recorders for airplanes with 10 or more seats and operating under Parts 121, 125 or 135. These improved devices–which are due by March 7, 2012, for in-service airplanes–will yield more data for accident and incident investigators. The rule also mandates these enhancements on all newly built aircraft and helicopters after March 7, 2010. Under the final rule, all CVRs must record the last two hours of cockpit audio instead of the current 15 to 30 minutes; have an independent backup power source for the CVRs to allow continued recording for nine to 11 minutes if all aircraft power sources are lost or interrupted; and use solid-state technology instead of magnetic tape. Also under the new rule, FDRs need to measure aircraft data more frequently than is now required, as well as retain the last 25 hours of recorded information.