Business Aviation Insider - March/April 2014 - (Page 7)
does my Aircraft need a Flight data recorder?
First introduced in the 1950s, flight data recorders (FDRs) capture
and analyze a variety of key performance parameters for a given
flight. These devices, which on newly manufactured aircraft
are required to monitor nearly 90 parameters (including basic
airspeed, attitude, flight path, engine power and configuration)
have become highly effective tools that help improve the safety of
flight operations worldwide.
The Benefits of fDRs
Primarily known for their use in accident investigations in helping
to determine causal factors, FDRs also play an important role in
accident prevention through programs such as Flight Operations
Quality Assurance (FOQA) by providing downloadable data used in
safety risk-assessment analysis. FDRs also contribute to airplane
system design improvements and can help maintenance personnel anticipate problems associated with aging aircraft, such as
long-term engine performance degradation. But on what types of
aircraft and in what locations are FDRs required to be installed?
Conflicting domestic and international governance creates a rather
complicated answer to this simple question.
Domestic or international? Making sense of the
For those operators who fly solely within the U.S., the requirements are simple: The FAA generally requires all multi-engine
turbine-powered aircraft manufactured after 1991 and configured
with 10 or more available passenger seats to be equipped with
a Type I FDR. As such, some of the larger mid-size jets can fall
under the scope of the FAA requirement. There are small nuances
in the requirements between private and commercial operations
with respect to the method of recording and the number of hours
of data the recorder must retain, but in general, the FAA mandates
FDR equipage for Part 91 and Part 135 operators on the basis of
available passenger seats.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), however, takes
a different approach to FDR requirements. ICAO Standards and
Recommended Practices, outlined specifically in Annex 6, Parts 1
and 2, call for FDR equipage based on the weight of an aircraft. Irrespective of the seating configuration, aircraft certified in 1989 or later
must have a Type I FDR installed if the maximum certificated takeoff
weight (MCTW) exceeds 27,000 kg (59,525 pounds). If the aircraft
was certified in 2005 or later, a Type IA FDR must be installed if the
MCTW exceeds 5,700 kg (12,566 pounds). ICAO has been a strong
advocate for FDR equipage and recommends that all aircraft certified
in 1989 or later be equipped with a Type II FDR if the MCTW exceeds
5,700 kg (12,566 pounds).
Operators flying internationally are always urged to follow the applicable ICAO standards, and particularly those requirements formally
adopted by the individual civil aviation authorities of the countries to
which they are flying. And for operators of large-cabin and mid-size
jets here in the U.S., there likely isn't any issue - those aircraft are
required to be FDR-equipped under both domestic and international
But what about the smaller U.S.-based mid-size jets that fall under
the FAA seating threshold, but above the ICAO weight threshold?
How do these operators deal with FDR requirements when operating outside U.S. borders? With FDR retrofitting costing upwards of
$80,000 for a mid-size jet, there is no easy answer. NBAA recommends that operators look at the specific requirements and options of
each country they intend to visit and work closely with an international
handler to determine the most appropriate path forward. ✣
fOr MOre INfOrMatION
NBAA's OPERATiONs sERViCE GROuP (OsG)
A free benefit for Members needing quick, authoritative information about
flying or managing aircraft. OSG staff members are available to answer
Member questions at (202) 783-9250 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Business Aviation Insider - March/April 2014
Business Aviation Insider - March/April 2014
Ask the OSG
Regulatory Hot Topics
Tips & Tools
Reduce Distractions by Maintaining a Sterile Cockpit
Safety: Guiding Your Way to a ‘Just Culture’
Maximize Aircraft Value: Part 91 Aircraft Cost-Sharing Opportunities
No Compromises Leads to Six Decades of Safe Flying
Focus on Asia
Business Aviation Insider - March/April 2014
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