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Flight Recorder Installation Survey

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

Background Introduction

Aviation Safety Council (ASC) carries out routine flight recorder installation survey on national-registered civil and public 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), quick access recorder (QAR), and lightweight flight recorder (LWR) at various national-registered operators. The findings would be the reference for the establishment of investigation laboratory’s flight recorder readout capability, so as to enhance the readout efficiency during the 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 were referred by the Taiwan Civil Aviation Regulations 07-02A to require civil aviation operators in Taiwan should install flight recorders on board the aircraft.

ICAO regulations on installation of flight recorders depend on aircraft category (fixed-wing or helicopter), operation type (commercial air transport or general aviation), date the type certificate was issued, maximum take-off weight (MTOW), and propulsion type to distinguish the needs to install flight recorders and the specifications. However, the aircraft may be exempted from requirements if the MTOW of the aircraft does not reach the weight threshold, the manufacturer does not provide any technical service for modification, or the operators 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 aircrafts which are not governed by civil aviation regulations do not have relevant legal sources for the installation of flight recorders. However, the newly acquired public helicopters (UH-60M) and second-generation fighters (F-16/M-2000/IDF) 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 QAR in civil aviation aircraft.
7. Statistics of the installation of flight recorders in public aircraft.
8. Statistics of the installation of portable GPS devices and light weight recorders (LWR) in public aircraft and general aviation aircraft which are not installed flight recorders.
9. Analysis of laboratory readout capability of the flight recorders.

 

Findings

ASC accomplished the annual flight recorder installation survey on 24th August, 2018. This survey included 18 operators - China Airlines, EVA Airways, UNI Airways, Far Eastern Air Transport, Mandarin Airlines, Tigerair Taiwan, Aerospace Industrial Development Corporation, Daily Air, Emerald Pacific Airlines, ROC Aviation Company, Great Wing Airline, Winair Jet, Executive Aviation Taiwan Corp., Avanti Aviation, APEX Flight Academy, Skyrainbow Airlines, Hug Cloud Flying Media and Lu-Shi Management Consultant Co. Ltd., 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 and except hot air balloons, there are a total of 274 aircraft including 250 fixed-wings and 24 helicopters. Out of these, 256 are civil aircraft (249 fixed-wings and 7 helicopters) and 18 are public aircraft (1 fixed-wing and 17 helicopters).

The results are classified as findings from statistics related to civil operators, findings from statistics related to civil helicopters and balloons installed with portable GPS and LWR, findings from statistics related to public aircraft installed with flight recorder and portable GPS, and findings from FOQA statistics related to civil operators as follows.

I. Findings from statistics related to civil operators:

1.No civil aircraft still installs tape-based flight recorders;
2.Figure 1 shows the statistics of civil fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters:
i.The proportion of the civil aircraft with CVR and FDR installation are 94.9% and 93.8% respectively;
ii.The proportion of the civil aircraft that has 30-min solid-state CVR and 120-min solid-state CVR installed are 2.7% and 92.2% respectively.
3.Figure 2 shows the statistics of civil fixed-wing aircraft:
i.The proportion of the civil fixed-wing aircraft with CVR and FDR installation are 95.6% and 95.2% respectively;
ii.The proportion of the civil fixed-wing aircraft that has 30-min solid-state CVR and 120-min solid-state CVR installed are 2.8% and 92.8% respectively.
4.The statistics of civil helicopters are as below:
i.There are 7 civil helicopters, 5 of which are equipped with CVR, and 3 of which are equipped with FDR.
ii.The proportion of the civil helicopter installed with CVR and FDR are 71.4% and 42.9% respectively.
5.The proportion of the civil fixed-wing aircraft with the FDR readout database in papers and electronic files are 41% and 78.3% respectively.
6.The proportion of the civil fixed-wing aircraft with QAR installation is 83.1%.
7.The proportion of verified FDR readout database for civil fixed-wing aircraft is 94.8%.
8.Up to 31 Aug. 2018, the readout capability at ASC LAB for the surveyed CVR and FDR were both 100%.

 

Figure 1 Statistics of civil fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter

Figure 1 Statistics of civil fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter

Figure 2 Statistics of civil fixed-wing aircraft

Figure 2 Statistics of civil fixed-wing aircraft

 

II. Findings from statistics related to civil helicopters and balloons installed with portable GPS and LWR:

1.There are 7 civil helicopters, none of them are equipped with a portable GPS; two Bell 206B are equipped with a LWR, the proportion of LWR installation is 28.6%.
2.There are 19 registered balloons in Taiwan. The Taitung County Government owns seven, Hug Cloud Flying Media owns two, Skyrainbow Airlines owns seven, Lu-Shi Management Consultant Co. Ltd. owns two and Asia-Pacific Institute of Creativity owns one.
3.There are two types of hot air balloons operations, mooring operation and free flight operation. One of 19 registered balloons is certified with mooring operation, the rest 18 are certified for free flight operation.
4.Up to 31 Aug. 2018, the readout capability at ASC LAB for the surveyed portable GPS and LWR are both 100%.

 

III. Findings from statistics related to public aircraft installed with flight recorder and portable GPS:

1.There are 18 public aircraft, 8 of them are UH-60M helicopters and equipped with mil-spec flight recorders, thus the proportion of flight recorder installation is 44.4%. In the rest 9 AS365 helicopters and one BEECH-200 aircraft, 5 of them are equipped with portable GPS, thus the proportion of GPS installation is 50.0%.
2.ASC has built up the readout capability for mil-spec flight recorder installed on the UH-60M helicopters. Up to 31 Aug. 2018, the capabilities at ASC LAB for the surveyed flight recorder and portable GPS installed on the public aircraft are both 100%.

 

IV. Findings from FOQA statistics related to civil operators:

As per “Aircraft Flight Operation Regulation - Article 9”, by Taiwan CAA:

From 1 January 2009, an operator shall establish and implement a safety management system acceptable to the CAA which, as a minimum:”.

1.Identifies safety hazards;
2.Ensures that remedial action necessary to maintain an acceptable level of safety is implemented;
3.Provides continuing monitoring (auditing) and regular assessment of the safety level achieved; and
4.Aims to make continuous improvement to the overall level of safety.

The safety management system as set out in the preceding paragraph shall clearly define lines of safety accountability throughout the operator’s organization, including a direct accountability for safety on the management level, and comply with attachment 1.

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 the safety management system in paragraph 1 above.

The flight data analysis programme as set out in the preceding paragraph shall be non-punitive and contain adequate safeguards to protect the source(s) of the data.

Six national-registered operators have set up monitoring systems for daily operation and total fleet size is 215 aircraft. There are 203 aircraft equipped with QAR, 12 aircraft did not have QAR installed, but have adopted their FDR to FOQA. The proportion of QAR installation is 94.4%. Statistics of FOQA systems using by national-registered operators are listed as table 1.

Table 1 Statistics of FOQA systems of domestic operators

Operator FOQA Maker SYSTEM FDM Animation
China Airlines Aerobytes Aerobytes FDM Y Y
EVA Airlines Aerobytes Aerobytes FDM Y Y
Mandarin Airlines Aerobytes Aerobytes FDM Y Y
UNI Air Aerobytes Aerobytes FDM Y
Y
Far Eastern Air Transport Teledyne

GRAF/PERMIT/VISION

Y

N

AirFASE Y Y
Tigerair Taiwan 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 for national-registered civil and public aircraft. To accomplish this, the laboratory carries out national-registered aircraft flight recorder installation survey every year. In overall, tape-based CVR and FDR were completely phased out since 2015. With the recommendation regarding promotes use of 120 minutes CVR issued to the CAA, there were positive responses in this survey. The proportion of 120 minutes CVR installation continually increases from 91.5 % (2017) to 92.8 % (2018).

Due to old avionics and related regulation limitations, the helicopters maintained low recorder installation rate in the past. However, with the introduction of new aircraft into the fleet, the proportion of CVR installation is gradually increased from 29.63% (2017) to 54.2% (2018), in the meantime the proportion of FDR installation is gradually increased from 18.52% (2017) to 45.8% (2018) as well. For those helicopters still not equipped with flight recorders, ASC will keep encouraging operators and relevant organizations to evaluate LWR installation and flight data applications, so as to elevate the flight safety.

Until 31 Aug. 2018, the readout capabilities at ASC LAB for the surveyed CVR, FDR, portable GPS and LWR both in civil and public aircraft have all reached 100%.

Future plans

1.Keep establishing readout capability for damaged avionic devices, participating international researches for flight data analysis, and developing a dynamic database system to manage the aircraft flight parameters.
2.Exploring flight data mining, dynamic image analysis, and big data applications in aviation.
3.Improving readout and analysis capability for new generation flight recorders, which equipped on A350, A380, B777 and B787 jets.
4.Assisting counterparts in Asia-Pacific Region to establish their investigative capabilities. Designing ASC investigators to counterparts in the U.S., France, Canada, Australia and Russia for the on-job training.

 

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