CVR data unavailable: A study of 52 airline accidents and incidents 2014-2022
Authors: Simon Cookson
Abstract: Concern has grown in recent years over the number of airline accidents and incidents for which investigators were unable to retrieve cockpit voice recorder (CVR) data. In 2018, a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report listed 34 events in which “pertinent CVR data were overwritten” and called for the introduction of CVRs with a 25-hour recording duration. In 2021, the European Union introduced regulations that require new transport aircraft weighing over 27,000 kg to be equipped with 25-hour CVRs. Building on a previous study (Cookson, 2019), this paper presents a protocol for examining safety events for which CVR data were unavailable, and examines 52 safety events that occurred between 2014 and 2022. In a majority of cases, the pertinent CVR data were overwritten because there was no prompt deactivation of the CVR after the safety event and/or a delay in notifying the investigating agency. The paper highlights a lack of standardization in the way that CVR data are presented in accident and incident reports, and a worrying subset of cases with a minimal description of CVR data or no mention at all.
Keywords: accident investigation, airline accident, cockpit voice recorder, regulations, safety
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