Flight Recorder Installation Survey

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Flight Recorder Installation Survey
Aviation Safety Council-Statistics-Flight Recorder Installation Survey

Background Introduction

ASC carries out routine flight recorder installation survey on national registered aircraft. Every year official document of flight recorder installation survey forms are sent to operators and government agencies. The goal of this survey is to find out the aircraft installation of cockpit voice recorder (CVR), flight data recorder (FDR), flight data acquisition unit (FDAU), and quick access recorder (QAR) at various national operators. The findings would be the reference for enhancement of the readout capability of the investigation laboratory, as well as the basis of flight recorder readout in relations to occurrence investigations.

The international specifications for flight recorders are derived from relevant Standards and Recommended Practices under Chapter 6 of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Annex 6, and are referred by the Taiwan Civil Aviation Regulations 07-02A to require civil aviation operators in Taiwan should install flight recorders.

International and domestic regulations on installation of flight recorders depends on aircraft delivery time, maximum take-off weight (MTOW) and on-board avionics to distinguish the needs to install flight recorders and recorded information. All civil aircrafts shall be installed with flight recorders for which the individual certificate of airworthiness is first issued after 1987 and the MOTW more than 5,700 kilograms. All civil helicopters shall be installed with CVRs for which the individual certificate of airworthiness is first issued after 1987 and the MOTW more than 3,175 kilograms. All civil helicopters shall be installed with FDRs for which the individual certificate of airworthiness is first issued after 1989 and the MOTW more than 7,000 kilograms, or individual certificate of airworthiness is first issued after 2005 and the MOTW more than 3,175 kilograms.

In the above provisions, the aircraft may be exempted from requirements if the MTOW of the aircraft does not reach the weight threshold, the on-board equipment is too old, the manufacturer does not provide any technical service for modification, or the operator can not obtain STCs issued by Taiwan CAA, FAA, EASA or civil aviation authority from the original design country for technical modifications.

Public and military aircraft which are not governed by civil aviation regulations doesn't have relevant legal sources for the installation of flight recorders. However, the newly acquired public helicopters and second-generation fighters are equipped with military flight recorders.

The specific works accomplished are:

1. Survey the models and the manufacturers of flight recorders.
2. Survey the format of the flight data readout database.
3. Survey the models and the manufacturers of FDAU.
4. Survey the installation of FOQA system.
5. Statistics of the installation of flight recorders in civil aviation aircraft.
6. Statistics of the installation of flight recorders in government aircraft.
7. Statistics of the installation of QAR in civil aviation aircraft.
8. Statistics of the installation of handheld GPS devices and light weight recorders (LWR) in hot air balloons, rotorcraft and public aircraft.
9. Analysis of the laboratory readout capability of the flight recorders.

 

Findings

ASC accomplished the annual flight recorder installation survey in August 2016. This survey included 20 operators - China Airlines, EVA Airways, UNI Airways, Far Eastern Air Transport, Trans-Asia Airways, Mandarin Airlines, Tigerair Taiwan, V Air, Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation, Daily Air, Sunrise Airlines, Emerald Pacific Airlines, Winair Jet, ROC Aviation Company, Great Wing Airline Executive Aviation Taiwan Corp., APEX Flight Academy, Avanti Aviation, Taiwan, Skyrainbow Airlines and Hug Cloud Flying Media, three government agencies - National Airborne Service Corps., Civil Aeronautics Administration, Taitung County Government and one academy - Asia-Pacific Institute of Creativity.

According to the responses from all these agencies, there are a total of 281 aircraft including 251 fixed-wings and 30 helicopters. Out of these, 254 are civil aircraft (248 fixed-wings and 6 helicopters) and 27 are public aircraft (3 fixed-wings and 24 helicopters.) The survey reveals the following findings:

I. Findings from statistics related to civil operators:

1.Figure 1 shows the statistics of civil fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft:
i.The proportion of the civil aircraft with CVR and FDR installation are 94.5% and 92.5% respectively;
ii.The proportion of the civil aircraft with tape-based CVR and FDR installation are both 0% respectively;
iii.The proportion of the civil aircraft that has 30-min CVR and 120-min CVR installed are 7.1% and 87.4% respectively.
2.Figure 2 shows the statistics of civil fixed-wing aircraft:
i.The proportion of the civil fixed-wings airplanes with CVR and FDR installation are 95.6% and 94.8% respectively;
ii.The proportion of the civil fixed-wings airplanes that has tape-based CVR and FDR installed are both 0% respectively;
iii.The proportion of the civil fixed-wings airplanes that has 30-min CVR and 120-min CVR installed are 6.0% and 89.5% respectively.
3.There are 6 civil helicopters, 3 of which are equipped with CVR and none with FDR. The proportion of the civil helicopter installed with CVR and FDR are 50% and 0%.
4.The proportion of the civil aircraft with the FDR readout database in papers and electronic files are 47.2% and 73.8%.
5.The proportion of verified FDR readout database is 91.3%.
6.Up to 30 Aug. 2016, the readout capability at ASC LAB for the surveyed CVR and FDR was 99.6% and 99.6% respectively. Only one recorder from a new Gulfstream G280 registered this year can't be covered by ASC's capability, and are listed as table 1.

 

Table 1 Statistics of the recorders that ASC couldn't readout (Up to 30 Aug. 2016)

A/C Recorder Manufacturer Type Part Number Amount
G280 CVR Curtiss-Wright MP Flight Recorder CIMS D51615-3411-250 1
G280 FDR Curtiss-Wright MP Flight Recorder CIMS D51615-3411-250 1
 

 

Statistics of civil fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraftFigure 1 Statistics of civil fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft

Statistics of civil fixed-wing aircraftFigure 2 Statistics of civil fixed-wing aircraft

II. Findings from statistics related to civil rotary-wing aircraft and balloons installed with portable GPS and LWR:

1.There are 6 civil rotary-wing aircraft, only one Bell 206B is equipped with a LWR, the proportion of portable GPS and LWR installation are 0% and 16.7%.
2.There are 17 registered balloons in Taiwan. The Taitung County Government owns 7 balloons, the Hug Cloud Flying Media Co., Ltd. owns two, SunRise Airlines owns two, Skyrainbow Airlines owns 5, and Asia-Pacific Institute of Creativity owns one.
3.There are two types of hot air balloons operations, mooring operations and free flight operation, which depends on Taiwan CAA airworthiness certificate. Two of 17 registered balloons are certified with mooring operation, 15 are certified for free flight operation. All free flight hot air balloons are equipped with portable GPS.
4. Up to 30 Aug. 2016, the readout capability at ASC LAB for the surveyed portable GPS and LWR are both 100% respectively.

 

III. Findings from statistics related to public fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft installed with portable CVR, FDR and portable GPS:

1.Most of the 27 public aircraft are early types and do not have modern avionics for the flight recorder installation requirement. Currently, 4 aircrafts are equipped with civil-spec CVR, 2 with civil-spec FDR. In addition, 5 new UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters are equipped with mil-spec flight recorders, the proportion of CVR and FDR installation are 33.3%, 2.7% and 25.9%.
2.There are 24 rotary-wing public aircraft, 14 of them are equipped with portable GPS, and the proportion is 58.3%.
3.Up to 30 Aug. 2016, the readout capability at ASC LAB for the surveyed civil-spec CVR, civil-spec FDR and portable GPS are all 100% respectively. The mil-spec flight recorders from Black Hawk helicopters can’t be covered by ASC’s capability and are listed as table 2.

Table 2 Statistics of the recorders that ASC couldn't readout (Up to 30 Aug. 2016)

A/C Recorder Manufacturer Type Part Number Amount
UH60M CVR Goodrich IVHMU 30279-0301 5
UH60M FDR Goodrich IVHMU 30279-0301 5

 

IV. Findings from FOQA statistics related to civil operators:

Civil operators FOQA systems: Depends on “Aircraft Flight Operation Regulation - Article 9”, submitted by Taiwan CAA, “From 1 January 2009, … An operator of an aircraft of a maximum certificated take-off mass in excess of 27,000 kg shall establish and maintain a flight data analysis programme as part of its safety management system…”.

Eight domestic operators have set up monitoring systems for daily operation and total fleet size is 216 aircrafts. There are 204 aircrafts equipped with QAR, 8 aircrafts did not have QAR installed, but have adopted their FDR for FOQA. The proportion of QAR installation is 94.4%. Statistics of FOQA systems using by domestic operators are listed as table 3. 

Table 3 Statistics of FOQA systems of domestic operators

Operator FOQA Maker SYSTEM FDM Animation
China Airlines Teledyne

GRAF

AirFASE

Y

Y

N

Y

Aerobytes Aerobytes FDM Y Y
EVA Air Aerobytes Aerobytes FDM Y Y
Teledyne AirFASE Y Y
UNI Air Aerobytes Aerobytes FDM Y Y
AIRINC FASET    
TransAsia Airwats Teledyne AirFASE Y Y
Far Eastern Air Transport Teledyne

GRAF

VISION

Y

Y

N

Y

Mandarin Airlines SAGEM AGS Y Y
Tigerair Taiwan Teledyne AirFASE Y Y
V air Teledyne AirFASE Y Y

 

Conclusions

One of the goals the ASC Investigation Laboratory trying to pursue is to reach 100% capability of flight recorder readout, and position itself as the flight recorder readout and analysis center in the Asia Pacific region. To accomplish this, the laboratory carries out national aircraft flight recorder installation survey every year.

In overall, tape-based CVR and FDR were completely phased out due to civil operators’ fleet renewal. In the past year we have recommended CAA to promote use of 120 minutes CVR and there were positive responses in this survey. The proportion of CVR installation increases gradually from 85.8 % (2015) to 89.5 % (2016).

The recorder installation rate is still quite low on rotary-wing aircraft due to old avionics and related regulation limitations. The proportion of CVR and FDR installation are 33.3% and 20.0% respectively. In consequence, rotary-wing aircraft occurrence investigation usually relies on flight data derived from onboard GPS or LWR. ASC has issued several safety recommendations to general aviation operators and National Airborne Service Corps to encourage them to evaluate LWR installation and flight data applications.

Until 30 Aug. 2016, the readout capability at ASC LAB for the surveyed civil-spec CVR and FDR are both 99.6% respectively; and that for the surveyed military-specification flight recorders is 0%.

The future plans of ASC Laboratory regarding CVR/FDR readout are:

1.Providing budget for the year 2017 to establish the readout and analysis capability for military flight recorders installed with Black Hawk helicopters.
2.Improving readout and analysis capability for new generation flight recorders equipped on A350, A380, B777 and B787 jets.
3.Exploring reverse engineering in order to handle damaged avionic chip modules and studying relevant applications of flight data mining and airborne image recorders.
4.Assisting counterparts at Asia-Pacific countries to establish their investigative capabilities. Sending our investigators to counterparts in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Australia for on-job training.
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