November 15, 2018

FDR Requirements To Be Expanded


Transport Canada – Civil Aviation (TCCA) is developing rules that will expand the requirement for flight data recording (FDR) systems to be installed in more aircraft.

This is in direct response to a TSB recommendation of earlier this year stemming from their investigation into the crash of a Cessna Citation near Kelowna, B.C. in 2016 that took the life of former Alberta premier Jim Prentice and others. The privately operated Citation 500 was not equipped with an FDR and none was required. The TSB cites the lack of FDR information prevented them from determining the cause of the crash.

Current requirements call for FDRs and cockpit voice recorders (CVRs) in all commercial, business and private operations of multi-engine turbine aircraft with greater than 10 passenger seats, as well as multi-engine turbine aircraft with six or more passenger seats that require two pilots to operate.

In the TSB’s final report on the accident, the TSB issued a recommendation (A18-01) that “the Department of Transport require the mandatory installation of lightweight flight recording systems by commercial operators and private operators not currently required to carry these systems.”

Technological advancements allow for much more economical solutions to be introduced that may address new requirements, even including the use of smartphones as the recording device. This has given rise to a relatively new category of FDR, referred to as Lightweight Flight Recording (LDR) systems.

While the extent of the new rules has not yet been finalized, COPA was instrumental in having lightweight privately operated piston aircraft exempt.

The TCCA focus group will meet next in 2019 to further advance the rulemaking process.