Airlines doctor cockpit voice recorder to hide serious incidents, accidents-NCAA

  • Agency warns carriers

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has expressed serious worry over the high rate of Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) overwrites.

The aviation regulatory body in a letter with reference number: NCAA/DGCA/AOL/11/16/365, signed by Capt. Musa Nuhu, NCAA Director-General stated that airlines indulge in the unprofessional act in order to circumvent investigation by the Nigeria Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB).

The letter dated July 24, 2023, addressed to the Accountable Executive, Directors of Operations, chief pilots, and safety managers, and that some airlines have consistently indulged in this unwholesome practice, which could impact safety negatively.

DG NCAA, Capt Musa Nuhu

The NCAA and the NSIB had in the wake of the report of the incident involving Max Air’s B747 incident expressed concern over the incessant occurrence of the issue with airlines.

The CVR is a device used to record the audio environment in the flight deck for accidents and incident investigation purposes. The CVR records and stores the audio signals of the microphones and earphones of the pilots’ headsets and of an area microphone installed in the cockpit.

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The CAA further issued them a 30 days ultimatum to comply with the amendments or face sanction.

The letter to all Accountable Executive/Director of Operations/Chief Pilot/Safety Manager titled: Re: Continuous Overwriting of Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) Information Aviation read,”

The Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) noticed that some airline operators’ flight crew members are in the habit of the practice of continuously overwriting the CVR information after an occurrence.

“This practice makes it practically impossible for the Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB) to retrieve actual data to aid in its investigation as required by Paragraphs 25 and 26 of the Civil Aviation (Investigation of Air Accidents and Incidents) Regulations 2019. This action has also impeded and posed undesirable difficulty in ensuring that NSIB successfully discharges its statutory mandate of investigating accidents and serious incidents.

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“Unfortunately, this unwholesome practice has recently been detected in the industry. The Authority, by this AOL, wishes to reiterate that Nig. CARS Part 7.8.1.3 (b), which is derived from the provisions of ICAO Annex 6, Section 11.6 states that, “To preserve flight recorder records, flight recorders shall be deactivated upon completion of flight time following an accident or incident. The flight recorders shall not be reactivated before their disposition as determined in accordance with the accident incident regulations of Nigeria”.

“Furthermore, Nig. CARS Part 8.14.10.3 (a) requires that “The operator/owner of the aircraft, or in the case where it is leased, the lessee, shall ensure, to the extent possible, in the event the aircraft becomes involved in an accident or incident, the preservation of all related flight recorder records and, if necessary, the associated flight recorders, and their retention in safe custody pending their disposition as determined by the Accident Investigation Bureau (now NSIB).

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NCAA had on July 30th, 2019 issued an FSG All Operators Letter (AOL) with ref: NCAA/FSG/AOL/19/003 with the purpose of alerting all aircraft operators on the continuous overwriting of Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) Information by their flight crew members and the necessity to ensure compliance with the appropriate Nigeria Civil Aviation Regulations (Nig. CARS) requirements.
Wole Shadare