NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


October 17, 2008

Washington, DC - The National Transportation Safety Board has told the Federal Aviation Administration that many elements of its new rule dealing with aircraft flight recorders comply with previous NTSB recommendations, but noted that some of its recommendations were not adopted.

The FAA issued a final rule, titled "Revisions to Cockpit Voice Recorder and Digital Flight Data Recorder Regulations," earlier this year. After reviewing the rule, the NTSB this week classified several recommendations referenced in the rule.

The Board was pleased to see that all larger passenger airliners will be required to carry 2-hour cockpit voice recorders (CVRs), greatly expanding the current 30-minute requirement. But the rule stopped short by not requiring that older 30-minute CVRs be replaced on existing commuter and corporate jet aircraft. The FAA did require that newly manufactured commuter and corporate jets come equipped with 2-hour CVRs. Recommendation A-96-171 was closed "Acceptable Action."

The Board had asked that airliners be retrofitted with CVRs that had an emergency 10-minute power supply in case of an electrical interruption, such as occurred on ValuJet flight 592 in 1996 and Swiss Air flight 111 in 1998. The FAA agreed that newly manufactured airliners be so equipped but declined to require retrofits. The Board acknowledged that a retrofit rule might have posed a roadblock for regulatory approval for the rule, so classified recommendation A-99-16 "Closed - Acceptable Alternative Action."

The Board closed as unacceptable action A-96-89, which called for certain configurations of microphones and dedicated channels in airliner cockpits, and A-99-17, which called for dual combination recorders, one in the front and one in the back of the plane.

"Flight recorders have proven themselves invaluable in providing crucial information during accident and incident investigations," NTSB Acting Chairman Mark V. Rosenker said.
"While I am happy to see that some of the enhancements we've been advocating for years are being adopted by the FAA, I again urge the FAA to act on the Board's recommendations for cockpit image recorders, which were not addressed in the new rule."

The new rule calls for increased flight control position sampling rates on flight recorders, which should improve the quality of data available to investigators.

Improvements in flight recorders has been on the Board's list of Most Wanted Transportation Safety Improvements since 1999.

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.