“The SAFE Act” – Safe Aviation and Flight Enhancement Act

H.R. 2632 (2003) and H.R. 3336 (2005)

Support for Proposed Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) Upgrades, to provide dual recorders, front and rear, and a rear deployable recorder.

NADA/F has twice supported bi-partisan legislation to require updated dual recorders including a deployable rear recorder, from 2002 through 2006.

Although neither legislation passed, we hope legislation will be introduced again. While the FAA and NTSB have approved some upgraded standards for recorders, the traveling public needs more.

Special thank you to Congressmen David Price (D-NC) and John Duncan, Jr. (R-TN) for their leadership and support, and to the other Members of Congress who signed on to the legislation.

About Flight Data Recorders

The “Black Box” has always been the most important tool in air crash investigation, which includes the Flight Data Recorder (FDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR). Yet the industry in the U.S., and the FAA, have a long history of delaying much-needed upgrades in FDR/CVR equipment on passenger planes. NADA/F firmly believes that any delay in the recovery of flight data hinders the accident investigation progress.

It is so important that today’s technology be used on today’s planes! For years the NTSB, NADA/F and others have pushed for better quality, more parameters, 25 hours of continuous sound, an independent power source, and more; but still the industry and the FAA delays these much needed upgrades.

On March 9, 1999, the NTSB recommended dual combined FDR/CVR units, one in the front, and one in the rear, to provide data recovery back-up.

Deployable Flight Recorder Systems

NADA/F believes the rear unit should be a deployable flight recorder system, which actually separates from the aircraft at the onset of a crash, equipped with upgraded locator transmitters, and lands separate from the crash site.

Over 4,000 deployable systems have been sold to the U.S. military and to more than 20 countries worldwide, and have been in use for over 30 years. The Navy’s long-term experience with the deployable technology has shown that it is a proven technology, which would greatly increase the survivability and recoverability of critical flight information from commercial air accidents, while reducing the time and cost of mishap investigation, search, rescue and recovery efforts.

NADA/F strongly encourages Congress to take the critical steps necessary to save lives and prevent future air disasters by requiring the FAA to follow through with the March 9, 1999 NTSB recommendations, including the added safety step of requiring that one of the units be a deployable recorder.

A deployable FDR/CVR could possibly have provided invaluable information about what happened on AA 11 and UA 175 Sept. 11, 2001.

NADA/F has formally endorsed the proposed legislation to require the FAA to implement the March 9, 1999 NTSB recommendations, including the deployable recorder system. NADA/F members have always wanted the most thorough air crash investigations possible, and it is long overdue that commercial aircraft must be equipped with the best tools possible, including the finest “black box” technology available.

As recently as June 6, 2007 the NTSB Chair Mark Rosenker testified to Congress about the NTSB “Most Wanted” in aviation safety, and the need for improved data and voice recorders has been color‑coded RED for Unacceptable Response.

Originally published in 2003 and updated in 2008