Cockpit Voice Recorder Legislation Opposed By CAPA <


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Cockpit Voice Recorder Legislation Opposed By CAPA

By Mike Mitchell

March 10, 2010. The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA) which represents over 28,000 pilots, strongly opposes legislation introduced by Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) (S.3048) to allow the use of Cockpit Voice Recorders (CVR’s) as a means of punishing airline pilots found to be violating sterile cockpit and other established procedures while flying.  

Sen. DeMints’ language would turn back the clock on every safety improvement the industry has attained in the last fifteen years of voluntary aviation safety programs. Neither the FAA nor NTSB supports the use of these devices as in-flight monitoring and disciplinary tools. The NTSB supports routine downloading of CVR data for use in voluntary safety reporting programs.  

Although, they specifically stated that for this  information to be useful as a tool in mitigating aircraft incidents and accidents it should be de-identified to protect the confidentiality of the crewmembers and airlines involved.

Since its’ development as an accident investigation tool, CVR’s have always been a forensic method to determine causal matters related to aircraft accidents. Expanding their uses to include the “real time” monitoring and punishment of pilots is misguided, and to expect airline flight crews to work in such an environment as a means of enhancing aviation safety is wrong.

Such a measure would actually harm flight safety by suppressing the necessary communications required to effectively manage the cockpit. CAPA’s President, “This bill would destroy voluntary safety reporting programs such as Flight Operations Quality Assurance (FOQA) and the Aviation Safety Action Program (ASAP)” said Captain Paul Onorato. 

“It would also reduce safety in commercial airline operations by inhibiting the free flow of information required to evaluate and improve system performance; these programs in use by some airlines have led to the evolution of a mature and improved safety culture among the major US Airlines and must not be abandoned”, he added.  

CAPA calls on all each member of the Senate to strongly oppose any measure by Sen. DeMint and others to effect this change and irreparably harm our aviation safety system in America.  The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations is a trade association which represents over 28,000 professional pilots at carriers including American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, UPS, ABX Air, US Airways, Atlas Air Cargo, Kalitta Air, Polar Air Cargo, and NetJets. 


Below is a copy of Legislation (S.3048) by Senator Jim DeMint. At this time DeMint has no cosponsors. 

Feb 26, 2010 - Introduced in Senate. This is the original text of the bill as it was written by its sponsor and submitted to the Senate for consideration. This is the latest version of the bill. 

S 3048 IS 111th CONGRESS 2d Session S. 3048 

To improve air safety by authorizing the limited use by air carriers of information collected through cockpit voice recorders and flight data recorders, to prohibit tampering with such devices, and for other purposes. 

In The Senate Of The United States: February 26, 2010:  Mr. DEMINT introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation 

A BILL:  To improve air safety by authorizing the limited use by air carriers of information collected through cockpit voice recorders and flight data recorders, to prohibit tampering with such devices, and for other purposes. 

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, 

Section 1. Short Title:  This Act may be cited as the ‘Pilot Professionalism Assurance Act’. 


(a) Authorization- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, or any provision in a private contract, air carriers may use information obtained from a cockpit voice recorder or a flight data recorder-- 

(1) To discipline or discharge a pilot or flight engineer for actions that endanger the safety or well being of passengers; 

(2) To defend itself in any discipline or discharge grievance proceeding; 

(3) To evaluate or monitor the judgment or performance of an individual pilot or crew member; 

(4) To justify or require a pilot’s submission to a proficiency check or line check; or 

(5) For any other purpose relating to improving the safety or well being of passengers. 

(b) Confidentiality- Each air carrier that has obtained information pursuant to subsection (a) shall keep such information confidential and may only disclose such information to the extent required in an administrative or judicial proceeding. 


(a) In General- No person may tamper with, disable, or destroy any cockpit voice recorder or flight data recorder installed on a commercial aircraft. 

(b) Penalties- 

(1) IN GENERAL- Any person who violates the prohibition described in subsection (a) may be fined up to $2,000 and imprisoned for not more than 5 years. 

(2) COMMERCIAL PILOT- If a commercial pilot violates the prohibition described in subsection (a)-- 

(A) The air carrier employing such pilot shall immediately terminate such employment; and 

(B) The Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration shall immediately revoke the airman certificate issued to the pilot under section 44703 of title 49, United States Code.

(see NTSB Wants Cockpit Conversations Monitored)  (ALPA Cockpit Monitoring Legislation Threatens Safety)

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