The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) says the requirement for flight data recorders (FDRs) should be extended to all Canadian commercial and private business aircraft operators.
Lightweight recording systems should be mandatory for the commercial and private business operators not covered by existing regulations, the TSB said in a safety recommendation issued Thursday to Transport Canada.
The existing regulations base requirements for FDRs primarily on the number and type of engines in an aircraft, the number of passenger seats, and the type of operation in which it is engaged, the TSB said. Typically, smaller commercial aircraft lack the system infrastructure to support an FDR, and some other aircraft types are not compatible with conventional FDRs; many of these aircraft, however, could accommodate lightweight recording systems, the TSB said.
The TSB’s recommendation was included in Thursday’s final report on the Oct. 13, 2016, crash of a Norjet Cessna Citation 500 after departure from Kelowna Airport in British Columbia. The pilot and all three passengers were killed in the loss of control crash, which destroyed the airplane.
“Because there were no flight recording systems on board the aircraft, the TSB could not determine the cause of the accident,” the agency said in a statement accompanying the report. “The most plausible scenario is that the pilot, who was likely dealing with a high workload associated with flying the aircraft alone, experienced spatial disorientation and departed from controlled flight shortly after takeoff.”
The TSB noted that in another recent report — on an accident involving a privately operated Mitsubishi MU-2B-60 that crashed March 29, 2016, on approach to Îles-de-la-Madeleine Airport, Quebec — the airplane was equipped with a lightweight FDR even though the system was not required by regulation. The data gathered by that system helped accident investigators understand the sequence of events that preceded the crash, which killed all seven passengers and crew, the TSB said.
The contrast in the evidence available in the two accidents illustrates the value of FDR systems, the TSB report said.
TSB Chair Kathy Fox added, “We don’t like having to say, ‘We don’t know’ when asked what caused an accident and why. We want to be able to provide definitive answers.”