RAA encourages discussion to use CVRs in accident prevention

Washington DC
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As the investigation into the fatal crash of Colgan Air flight 3407 continues, the US Regional Airline Association (RAA) believes dialogue should occur about the potential use of cockpit voice recorders (CVRs) in accident prevention.

The Colgan Bombardier Q400 crashed on approach to Buffalo in February, and part of the ensuing investigation focused on the crew's breech of sterile cockpit rules.

Also in the aftermath Colgan suggested that its pilots union, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), examine the feasibility of using CVR recordings as part of an enhanced Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) programme.

During a recent interview with ATI RAA President Roger Cohen explained so much of the "outfall" from the crash among the press, legislators and regulators is traced back to the CVR transcript.

During public hearings held by the National Transportation Safety Board as part of its investigation into the crash, board members expressed concern over the casual banter between the captain and first officer, and the fact that neither individual spoke up about breeching the sterile cockpit.

Cohen says it is important to discuss the potential use of non-punitive, legally protective ways to de-identify CVR information in accident prevention.

RAA's President believes no issue should be so parochial that it remains excluded from discussions over how to improve safety.

As some of those discussions begin, Cohen explains that he hopes "everyone comes in with the right attitude and has an open mind".

After Colgan approached ALPA about using CVR in FOQA, an ALPA representative told NTSB the intent of a CVR is for accident investigation, not for regular monitoring of the cockpit.

Continuing its campaign to stress its commitment to safety, the RAA in June launched a Strategic Safety Iniative. Key elements include the commissioning of an independent study on pilot fatigue. Additionally, two RAA representatives - Jim Winkley VP of Safety at American Eagle and Republic COO Wayne Heller - are representing RAA on a 16-member FAA advisory rulemaking committee on flight duty and rest, reports the association's newsletter Regional Horizons.