Page 9 - InterPilot Issue 3 2015
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Airborne Image Recorders (AIRs)

and Recording Systems (AIRS)

ver since the first airborne recording devices started being fitted as
Estandard to aircraft for accident and incident investigation purposes, Photo from Reuters
IFALPA has been involved in the various international fora, making sure
that these devices were fit for purpose and actually improved flight safety.
As an example, in the late 1980s, the Federation was an active contributor
to the Working Group of The European Organisation for Civil Aviation
Equipment (EUROCAE) which was drawing up the Minimum
Operational Performance Specification (MOPS) for the new generation
of Cockpit Voice Recorders (CVRs) that used digital recording media
rather than tapes.
When Airborne Image Recorders were first discussed within the
aviation industry, IFALPA was immediately concerned with the big The CVR after the crash of Germanwings Flight 4U9525
potential for misuse of such recordings. The installation of CVRs was
accepted by IFALPA only because the Authorities assured that this decision-making and problem-solving. The presence of AIRs also has an
sensitive safety information would be used only for aircraft accident and adverse impact on the willingness of the crew to report events, which in
incident investigations within the scope of ICAO Annex 13. To date, this itself has a negative effect on safety and accident prevention, and makes
commitment has not been kept, and recent high profile accidents have the installation of such recorders counterproductive.
once again proved that sensitive information is being publicly disclosed The on-going misuse of audio recordings, which often end up being
and used for purposes other than what was intended. IFALPA has no leaked to the media and on the public domain, with examples including
doubt that recordings coming from Airborne Image Recorders will follow American Airlines flight 965, GOL flight 1907 and more recently
the same path, and has therefore developed the following position. Germanwings flight 4U9525, clearly shows the limitations of ICAO
Annex 13’s provisions on CVR data protection. In light of the general
IFALPA’S POSITION public’s desire for sensational pictures, IFALPA has absolutely no doubt
Due to a series of high-profile airline accidents, some Accident that AIR data would follow the same path and that the protection of
Investigation Authorities have recommended the implementation of video recordings could not be ensured. Should AIRs be allowed, it would
Airborne Image Recorders (AIRs) and Recording Systems (AIRS) in only be a matter of time before videos of the flight deck appear on
aircraft as an additional tool for accident investigations. Ever since, AIRs various media.
have become a hot topic in the aviation industry, and the Federation Considering the extremely low rate of accidents in commercial
stands firm in its position. aviation, the theoretical gain provided by AIR use in an accident
Whilst IFALPA strongly supports initiatives to improve safety, the investigation would be minimal and has not been proven to enhance
Federation recalls that the extensive UK CAA study on the subject safety. This is to be weighed against the massive infringement of privacy
published as CAP 762 (2006) demonstrates that the use of AIR data represented by video recordings, as well as the fundamental personal
would not provide any significant added value to an accident investiga- rights of the flight crews.
tion. This study also shows that, regardless of any additional information Therefore, until the misuse of recordings and transcripts has been
that AIRs might give, visual data is always subject to misinterpretation, effectively prevented, IFALPA will remain strongly opposed to the
which can lead the investigation astray. installation of AIRs. The Federation supports expanding the existing
Moreover, IFALPA has identified that, when flight crews are subject technology of the Flight DATA Recorder (FDR) to provide a better
to video recordings, even for training purposes, they behave very understanding of the state of the aircraft and believes that Safety
differently. There is clearly a fear of cameras, in front of which flight Management is the most effective way ahead for proactive safety
crews mostly focus on avoiding behavioural mistakes, to the detriment of improvement.

InterPilot | The Safety and Technical Journal of IFALPA ISSUE 3 | 2015
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