Transport Canada has issued a notice of proposed amendment to require installation of lightweight flight data recorders (LDR) on virtually all general and business aviation aircraft registered in Canada. The mandate would apply to the existing fleet and newly manufactured aircraft used for private flying, training, aerial work, and commuter and air taxi operations. Operators would have up to five years from the publication of the final rule to meet the retrofit requirement.
“LDRs generally represent a less costly alternative to traditional flight data recorders (FDR), though they are less robust and generally less likely to survive a crash,” Transport Canada said, but added that these units still provide a means of “recording valuable flight data information.” Several LDR systems currently on the market can record information that is sufficient to determine the flight path and aircraft speed. This includes combined flight deck image, flight deck audio, aircraft parametric data, images of the aircraft instruments, and/or datalink messages.
Canada currently requires FDRs in most private and commercial aircraft with 10 or more passenger seats. Australia's CASA, EASA, and other national aviation authorities are well into the regulatory process of requiring LDRs on aircraft flown for commercial purposes. Presently, there are no current initiatives underway by the FAA to mandate the installation of LDR systems. Comments on the Transport Canada proposal are due March 5.