On September 2, 1998, SwissAir Flight 111 had a fatal crash in Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia. In 1999, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released its accident investigation report, which revealed a stark lack of recorded information from the Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR). Unfortunately, the CVR did not capture the time frame when the fire, the cause of the accident, started. In the report, TSB recommended that CVR have a recording capacity of at least two hours, and this be supplemented with a dedicated independent power supply to power the CVR and cockpit area microphone.
And yet today, not all aircraft operating in Canada have a Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) onboard that can retain two hours of recorded information or have a Recorder Independent Power Supply (RIPS) for a backup power supply in the event of a circuit break or other such incident. The lack of recorded voice and other aural information has impeded aircraft safety investigations and delayed or prevented the identification of aircraft or operational safety issues.
To address this, Transport Canada announced new (CVR) mandates with the following objectives:
- To enhance the capture of CVR information by extending the recording time from 30 minutes to 2 hours.
- To ensure the continued function of the CVR system in case of a total power failure by requiring the use of RIPS that will last for 10 minutes.
- To fully implement the ICAO standards for CVR and to align the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) with the U.S. FAA standards.
- To clarify that a CVR is required anytime a multi-engine turbine-powered aircraft capable of carrying six passengers or more is operated by two pilots.
These amendments will take effect by May 2023, with fines as high as $15,000 if not installed.
Who is Affected and How?
The amendments apply to an expanded number of aircraft, except turbine-powered airplanes below the maximum certified take-off weight (MCTOW) of 27,000 kg that were manufactured before January 1, 1987, and non-transport helicopters. Currently, only aircraft manufactured after 2002 have a two-hour CVR, while many manufactured before do not meet the international standard set by International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Transport Canada estimates almost 1,000 aircraft in Canada are to be impacted by the amendment. These aircraft will be required to be retrofitted if they are not already compliant. The below table outlines how aircraft operators must adapt if currently non-compliant.
|Size, Engine Type, # Passengers||Cut-in Date||Previous Requirement||New Requirement|
|Turbine-powered airplanes over 27,000 kg||Type certificated after September 30, 1969, and before January 1, 1987||30-minute CVR||Two-hour CVR
|All airplanes over 5,700 kg||Manufactured after 1987, but before 2003||30-minute CVR||Two-hour CVR
|All airplanes over 5,700 kg||Manufactured after 2002||2-hour CVR No
|No change to CVR
|Helicopters over 7,000 kg||Manufactured after 2002||2-hour CVR No
|No change to CVR
A Solution to the Canadian CVR Mandates
Flight Data Systems’ SENTRY Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) with the Recorder Independent Power Supply (RIPS).
Since 1990, Flight Data Systems has been driving operational efficiencies in aviation using its portfolio of data acquisition, data recording, data storage, and data analysis tools. As one of the world’s leading providers of end-to-end flight data solutions for all aviation segments, Flight Data Systems offers Canadian operators the solution they need to meet the new Canadian CVR requirements.
While many of the world’s previously popular cockpit voice recorders are becoming obsolete or extremely difficult to source, Flight Data Systems has applied its 30+ years of market experience to develop a unique approach to storing critical flight information securely and reliably in a single form factor.
In 2020, Flight Data Systems unveiled the latest TSO’d, DO-160G qualified and fully EUROCAE ED-112 compliant SENTRY Flight Data and Cockpit Voice Recorder as the world’s smallest, lightest, and lowest power ED-112A compliant flight recorder ever manufactured.
The SENTRY not only reduces size and weight but also reduces power consumption to less than half of other solutions on the market, allowing Canadian operators to maximize the aircraft power budget for other mission-critical systems. Working with civil and military operators, Flight Data Systems has developed the SENTRY to exhibit the best features from existing recorders on the market in an obsolescence-free, crash-survivable package. Some key capabilities include:
- Stores two hours of high-quality, 4-channel voice and datalink messaging
- Integrated 10-minute Recorder Independent Power Supply (RIPS) available
- Requires very low power – only 4 Watts (nominal)
- Advanced hardware design minimizes size, weight, and power (SWaP)
- Extremely compact and lightweight – weighs as little as 4.5 lb (2kg)
To learn more about the SENTRY and to download its brochure, visit https://flightdata.aero/products/sentry-recorder/.
Benefits of Meeting New Canadian CVR Requirements
As a leader in flight data solutions, we are proud to support Canadian owners and operators equip their fleets with a robust solution that brings them on par with international CVR standards. Although potentially costly at first, complying with these amendments makes exports and imports of used aircraft from Canada and the United States easier as their regulations will be aligned.
More importantly, in the event of an accident, aircraft equipped with an updated CVR will allow for quicker investigations leading to cost savings in the future. Moreover, it will provide information for operators to improve their aircraft, airport, and operations to support safety further.