National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that all turbine-powered aircraft currently exempt from flight recorder rules be required to be equipped with crash-protected video recorders. Under the Board's recommendation, the requirement would first affect planes that carry passengers for hire and take effect within 5 years of adoption of a technical standard order covering the devices by the Federal Aviation Administration.
The Board's recommendation follows adoption of its final report on the crash of a Scenic Airlines Cessna 208B in Montrose, Colorado in 1997 that killed all nine persons aboard - the pilot and eight employees of the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Reclamation who were on a charter flight returning to Page, Arizona. The Board determined the probable cause of the accident to be the pilot's failure to maintain sufficient airspeed while maneuvering the airplane near maximum gross weight and aft center of gravity while the aircraft was in or near instrument flight conditions. Although the Board could not determine exactly why the pilot did not maintain sufficient airspeed, factors contributing to the accident were his improper in-flight planning and decision-making and his failure to use proper stall/spin recovery techniques.
The aircraft took off from Montrose a little after 7:00 a.m. on October 8, 1997 and crashed about 20 minutes later on a plateau. Although the plane was equipped with an Emergency Locator Transmitter, no ELT signal was detected. It took rescue workers 50 hours to find the aircraft. All occupants were killed during the aircraft's impact with the ground.
The Safety Board noted in its recommendation letter to the FAA that during the past 2 years, its investigations of several accidents involving Cessna 208s and similar aircraft have been hampered by the lack of flight data recorder (FDR) and cockpit voice recorder (CVR) information. The Board said that, although the installation of conventional FDRs and CVRs on those aircraft would be impractical, recent technological advancements have made video recorders technically and economically viable. The video recordings could capture instrument readings, cockpit control settings and pilot actions for post-crash analysis.
The NTSB is participating in a working group with the European Organization for Civil Aviation Equipment (EUROCAE), which is developing minimum manufacturing standards for the use of such recording systems in aircraft. The Board said that the FAA should incorporate the EUROCAE proposed standards for a crash-protected video recording system into a technical standard order, which could then provide the basis for a requirement for their use in turbine-powered aircraft that are not required to have FDRs and CVRs.
Other recommendations to the FAA were that recordkeeping requirements for single-engine aircraft be improved, and that ELTs for planes carrying passengers for hire meet a more stringent crashworthiness standard within one year.
The Board recommended that the General Services Administration, which issues regulations covering the transportation of federal employees, require that federal aircraft be equipped with video recorders if they are exempt from the FDR and CVR requirements, once the recommended FAA rules are in place; that all federally-owned or -leased aircraft be equipped with the more crashworthy ELTs within one year; and that pilots used in federal transportation be proficient in instrument flight rules even if the flight is not expected to enter instrument conditions.
Similar recommendations were issued to the Department of Interior, the National Association of State Aviation Officials, and Agency or Department Heads of the committee members of the Interagency Committee for Aviation Policy.
The Board's final report of the Montrose accident (listed under the date of occurrence, October 8, 1997) and the recommendation letters may be accessed on the NTSB's web page at "www.ntsb.gov". The recommendation letter numbers are A-99-64 through A-99-78.
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NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.