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Canadian Court Requires CVR Disclosure

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Canadian Court Requires CVR Disclosure

Old 20th Sep 2010, 16:48
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J.O. - very well said.


Correct my view if need be but your thesis seems to be, as long as pilots say and do the "right thing", (ie, maintain cockpit discipline, stick to SOPs - all the usual appropriate behaviours in other words), we have nothing to worry about if/when our cockpit conversations are released "in the public interest" because we will have "nothing to hide".

I disagree. The "discourse of accident investigation" is different than "the discourse of finding legal blame".

Even if the actual recordings are released, (and in the 2003 Quebec Propair case they were...the CVR was played in court), those who become ear-witnesses in a process designed specifically to find legal culpability will interpret what is heard differently than those who are investigating sounds purely for causal factors.

The very best intentions, professional competencies and in-the-moment actions on the part of the crew are, by design, reinterpreted as "evidence" for a case which intends to find blame/culpability, (or to excuse same), and not to determine the causal factors which resulted in the accident.

This does not mean legal proceedings and attendant responsibilities can or should be avoided. It just means that those who would prosecute legal proceedings must obtain their own evidence from sources other than those specifically intended and designed for flight safety purposes.

In fact, it is an irony that the narrow interpretation of "the public interest" is sufficient justification for release of privileged flight safety information when it may very well be the broader public interest, in terms of a safe aviation industry, which is in the long run harmed by the chilling effects of such individual release.

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Old 20th Sep 2010, 17:02
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Well, I am old enough to remember the invention of the CVR.

I can also remember the great hue and cry about having flight deck conversations recorded.

The biggest issue seemed to be that our flight deck conversation about what a w*nker the new ops manager was, or, who was srew*ing who among the girls/boys in the back of the aeroplane could come back to haunt us turned out to be completely unfounded.

After a couple of weeks, we forgot that the thing was there and we carried on just as if nothing had happened.

I personally have absolutely no worries about the contents of any CVR that I ever contributed to being made public.

Flight safety is flight safety and we should all be allowed to see each other's viewpoint in the event of an accident.
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Old 20th Sep 2010, 17:17
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I'm sorry

But if you feel your not subject to professional scrutiny up to and including a review of the CVR in the event of an incident then turn in your ATPL and sit in the back where you belong.

Anyone in any profession that involves a professional responsibility for the lives of others automatically accepts the highest standard of professional accountability, both legally and morally. The best defense against a "legal witchhunt" is the truth. The CVR should be your best friend, not your worst nightmare...
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Old 20th Sep 2010, 18:17
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To help you comprehend the issue more subtlely, this link to the Canadian TSB article below may help. The matter is not one of not accepting the necessity of maintaining a high standard of professionalism and competency as you are implying in your comments. Such protection of flight data is not a "get out of jail card"; such a view entirely misses the point of having such data available in the first place. I suggest you read this carefully. I think this contribution by the TSB provides a good understanding of the issue. The title of the article is shown below.

This article was published in The Journal of Parliamentary and Political Law, Volume 2 Number 3, in May 2009

No Fault, No Blame: Protecting Evidence in Transportation Accident Investigations

May 2009
by Wendy A. Tadros Chair, Transportation Safety Board of Canada
and Allen C. Harding General Counsel, Transportation Safety Board of Canada
Flight safety is flight safety and we should all be allowed to see each other's viewpoint in the event of an accident.
There is more at play in this matter than merely "each other's viewpoint". I think most of us are in the same category as you place yourself...that our conversations could be openly played without result.

However, the matter of making data available to non-aviation/non-safety groups goes to the heart of the use of CVR, DFDR, FOQA and Air Safety Reports. What if a group of passengers complained about "turbulence" or a hard landing and felt that the pilots put their lives "in danger"? What if, through precedents such as the present one, they then demanded the data and got it for use in court to prosecute a lawsuit claiming 'damages' of some sort? Do you hand over safety data for such requests that come from those who are in no position to judge but by dint of "public interest" suddenly have that authority? Do you remain comfortable with the knowledge that those who know nothing about aviation but a lot about tort law will be judging you on the basis of the CVR?

This is NOT about "hiding information" nor is it about "witch hunts" - the process is much more intelligent, subtle and professional than such characterizations lead one to believe. The process works, and has for decades, as the record attests. Flight safety is indeed, flight safety and the information garnered by those who do the investigations and write the reports needs to be widely shared but an indiscriminate sharing of all data would lead to more harm than the good that is intended.


Last edited by PJ2; 20th Sep 2010 at 19:35. Reason: Add comments to JW411 and correct term referencing fine pastries to term referencing the law...
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Old 20th Sep 2010, 18:55
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But if you feel your not subject to professional scrutiny up to and including a review of the CVR in the event of an incident then turn in your ATPL and sit in the back where you belong.
I don't know where you belong but the professional pilots on this website belong on the flight deck of a public transport aircraft.

Good, now that's sorted.

The CVR was introduced for use in accident investigation and ONLY for accident investigation. Your comment implies that we do not wish it to be used for that purpose. I suggest you re-read the foregoing comments.
I object to creeping misuse of a facility which we pilots magnanimously permitted to be in our workplace.
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Old 20th Sep 2010, 19:10
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Anyone in any profession that involves a professional responsibility for the lives of others automatically accepts the highest standard of professional accountability, both legally and morally. The best defense against a "legal witchhunt" is the truth. The CVR should be your best friend, not your worst nightmare...
Thank you, Doctor Pangloss.

Please go back a few posts and check out the problem as J.O. so succinctly put it, regarding a world that is not some Utopian ideal. The abuse of this tool is exactly what must not happen, and what is at risk.
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Old 20th Sep 2010, 19:53
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... because we will have "nothing to hide".
I attended a cocktail party years ago at one airline where, CVR data was played for all to hear.
With much laughter.

So, one had better keep ones opinions to oneself, otherwise...bad things can happen.
IE; your conversation on the FD, recorded for all to hear, can indeed come back to bite...sometimes with poor effects.
I object to creeping misuse of a facility which we pilots magnanimously permitted to be in our workplace.
Basil must be out to lunch.
IE: magnanimously permitted.
Hardly...the CVR was required by regulation, not somehow permitted by pilot groups, and...there is nothing you nor anyone else can do about this.
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Old 20th Sep 2010, 20:19
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Cockpit VIDEO recorder

I am very much in favor of a Cockpit Video Recorder in addition to a Cockpit Voice/Audio recorder...and even a constant data stream of same.

I would feel MORE protected as a pilot, if the video recorder would ''see'' the same things I do on the instruments, out the window and with my fellow cockpitmate.

There are some fine pilots out there who have nothing to fear...even with casual joking, talking about good looking FA's and Flying Saucers...both getting quite rare!

I know a controller with US ATC...one of the biggest airports in the country...tracon...there was at least one case where the radar display did not show a target...computer glitch...but the computer recorded the target. And a controller got screwed.

But if the video recorder had been ''seeing'' as the controller was seeing, he would have been exhonerated.

I have a feeling, that some might benefit with this in the cockpit.
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Old 20th Sep 2010, 21:02
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The CVR is there to enable investigation of accidents and incidents. As long as a request for its release is scrutinised by suitably qualified people to suitably qualified people I have no objection if it is to aid safety. The onward release to the public at large via the media should not be allowed. The irony of this is that we, here, all shout for the 'CVR and FDR' as soon as an accident happens - we don't really need it, do we?

The Pearson case is difficult. If it requested in order to determine some legal matter which could penalise a party, then I could support its LIMITED release to those who actually need the information. It is the control of the recording and transcripts that is the problem. Not dissimilar to cases where, say, national security is involved and 'sensitive' information can be released to a presiding judge alone.

The current complete lack of ability of many in government, the military or public services to protect laptops, sticks, papers etc. or to be discreet however, argues against all the above.
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Old 20th Sep 2010, 21:13
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Not sure how the CVR recording was played at a cocktail party but obviously misuse/mismanageent of acquired data (on this occasion for entertainment) happens in all industries.
There are normally rudimentary interlocks to stop Johnny technician downloading the CVR data, for the hell of it, with the CVR in situ. These can obviously be overidden with the right knowledge but it still requires more than just hooking a laptop and cable to the CVR. To say it is there for all to witness is a little dramatic.
I agree about the part of pilots "magnaminously permitting" the CVR, or rather they did not do so. Like most avionics developed and then implemented in recent years, they were mandated by the authorities.
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Old 20th Sep 2010, 22:02
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Please help me to respond by stating what it is you do for a living. I'd like to try (if possible) to give you a relevant example from your line of work that may help you to understand the very legitimate concerns we have about this dangerous legal precedent.
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Old 20th Sep 2010, 23:32
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Hoot Gibson's version of events in his TWA 727 incident in 1979 was not believed by the authorities and he lost his job.
He not only did not lose his job TWA supported him throughout the investigation. Further, the FAA took no action against Hoot or the other two crew members.

It was the NTSB and Boeing that did not believe the crew. Both TWA and the FAA had a different take on issues with the 727 than did the NTSB and Boeing. Hoot later sued Boeing, the end result remaining confidential.

The fact that the CVR had been "accidentally" wiped didn't help his case and made him look guilty. Erasing CVRs at the end of the flight is contrary to many companies SOPs.
TWA company policy at the time was: if you could erase the CVR, you were free to erase it. In any case the TWA ground crew at DTW left power on the aircraft so the recorder was erased by that action alone.
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Old 20th Sep 2010, 23:44
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I still remember the Hoot Gibson thing as if it were yesterday. He even came on 60 minutes I think and said words to the effect of:

I'll bet every CFI in the country believes that I was screwing around up there...well I wasn't.

I was a CFI at the time and I didn't know how much true BS there is in aviation. And a huge amount of it comes from the FAA and the manufacturers.

AS I've seen the 737 rudder problem close up, I am now more likely to believe Hoot.

I hope he got some money from Boeing at least 3 times what his earnings would have been as a pilot.

I still remember him saying something like: I locked on to the moon for a reference to get the thing under control.

I still think of that when I fly with a full moon.

AND IF pilots were screwing around with the slats, boeing should have put a gadget in the thing to prevent it...like no slats above X altitude etc.

makes you think.
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Old 21st Sep 2010, 02:06
  #34 (permalink)  
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Arpster beat me to that one...he's very correct re:Capt Hoot...I've actually flown that A/C with Custom Air (out of MIA) in the late 90's...nice bird for a cargo 100 model...

As for CVR, the majority on this thread seem to agree with my viewpoint...no problem as long as it's used for accident investigation...

If this starts getting used for civil litigation, I say no way...

One yr in the mid 90's I was attending recurrent at AA's Facility in DFW...there was a video (any AA guys correct me if I misunderstood this) in the SIM, which was used to tape the sim sessions for "traing purposes"...

Apparently the AA pilot group objected (and rightly so, IMHO) and the videos were disabled...
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Old 21st Sep 2010, 02:52
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"if this get to be used for litigation ,No way

The CVR must only be used for accident investigation and analysis.
It would not be too difficult to place a Caveat on all CVR's that the contents can NEVER be used for litigation against the company or the crew.
Who give a damn about the press and news media, provided it enhances flight safety.
The news media can call a rose by any name, and still believe that Joe Public
is stupid enough to believe them(the media)
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Old 21st Sep 2010, 07:25
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A non-flyer here, but someone reasonably well seasoned in operational and legal aspects of aviaton. My 2c's worth opinion:

The actual recording is SOLELY for the purpose of advancing aviation safety. No CVR recording should ever be released from the small circle of professionals who are suitably qualified to interpret them. In many jurisdictions, there is legislation to such extent.

Following an accident / incident a transcript is made from the recording, where a best effort is made to not only literally transcribe, but place into context whatever was being heared (including other noises), and synchronise with data from the FDR, ATC tapes and other sources. The transcript will not be a full copy of every word said, any private discussion that has no relevance to the sequence of events will be edited out by a responsible investigation board (of course if such discussion becomes a distraction and a contributing cause, that is a different story - see Buffalo). This transcript SHOULD be a part of any official investigation report, for the benefit of al of us (like it is in many jurisdictions). The corollary is that the investigation report, being a public document, may later be used and interpreted in a civil proceeding.

The source of the problem under discussion is that in Canada even the edited transcripts are not made public, which I believe to be wrong. Consequently there may be a reasonable demand from a civil court proceeding to produce CVR evidence, especially if such evidence is known to exist.

In the particular case, my understanding is that the reason the CVR recording is requested because of the presence of an additional person in the cockpit. The topic is carefully avoided in the accident report, I have gone through the whole document and only found one small print reference, saying that three non-revenue pax were on board, two on cc jumpseats, one in the cockpit jumpseat. This fact is not discussed at all in the accident analysis, my assessment is because this was not pertinent in any way to the accident. (Ie. there was no unnecessary talking, the third person was not considered to be a distraction in any way). It would have been probably more reassuring to have the report explicitely say this, especially as we know of several accidents where an additional person in the cockpit was a contributing cause. In this case indeed there appears to be a part of the story missing, and I could understand anybody being a part of the litigation process to be interested in such a potentially relevant piece of evidence.

It is perfectly normal for most european operators to allow colleagues on staff tickets to ride jumpseat, at the discretion of the captain. Some even have a quick standardized briefing in place (oxygen system, clean cockpit rule under 10000', etc). However in some jurisdictions the 'no unauthorised persons in cockpit' rule is used (or rather abused) to such extent that even fully qualified and licensed flight crew, if not actually on the crew list, are considered 'non authorised' (eg. UK). In more sane jurisdictions, any person in the cockpit is authorised if present with the consent of the operating crew, after all they ARE the supreme authority once chocks are off.

Last edited by andrasz; 21st Sep 2010 at 12:38.
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Old 21st Sep 2010, 09:14
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...I've actually flown that A/C with Custom Air (out of MIA) in the late 90's...nice bird for a cargo 100 model...
My recollection was that the aircraft was a 727-100 (727-131 in type for TWA) passenger bird. We had a few 727-131QCs, but Hoot's airplane wasn't one of those; at least not to my recollection. I flew it shortly after it returned to the line. My F/E took me on a walk-around and showed me the quite visible small ripples in the skin back near the aft end of the fuselage.

It must have been converted by someone after it left TWA's hands. Or, perhaps my memory has faded. It was only about 35 years ago.
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Old 21st Sep 2010, 09:41
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The CVR in the Hoot Gibson case was erased due to a slow transfer to external power, something that was known about and apparently the NTSB chose to ignore.

In any case, the aircraft was not shut down for a longish period after landing, the bit of the tape the investigators wanted was overwritten during this time.

It was not possible to erase the recorder deliberately, the damage to the undercarriage meant that the squat switches would not close and so the erase mechanism would not work. The NTSB also chose to ignore this, accusing the crew of deliberately erasing the evidence.

There's a good discussion of this in Stan Stewart's book "Emergency - Crisis in the Cockpit".

A quite disgraceful sequence of events in my opinion, the investigators should be ashamed of themselves.
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Old 21st Sep 2010, 10:23
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As others have suggested, the data from the CVR and the FDR are there for the professional analysis of any incident. The findings gleaned from therein will then be integrated into the subsequent report which then becomes freely available. To release raw data for the purposes of litigation to a court of law populated by people, including the judge, who have no concept of the workings of an aircraft is an unsound step which has no relevance to the future improvement of flight safety.
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Old 21st Sep 2010, 13:36
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cvr/ data recorders

I have worked under three different management philosophies ranging from one group of cowboys that I wouldn't trust my family to fly with to one that I informed after operating outside of the MEL.

I have also taken home a flight recorder tape and destroyed it after a drunken captain allowed the steward to ATTEMPT to fly the aircraft. I was a very junior copilot in the days that we were only there to assist the captain.

I have a colleague who had an engineer wipe the FDR on a large Boeing after a similar misdemeanor went T*ts up.

I believe that all CVR and FDR information should be available to a worldwide safety organization which would report their findings to airlines/manufacturers/aviation authorities and unions.

Unfortunately there is far too much vested interest in aviation and I know far too much about illegal operations.

I had a colleague climb out onto a snow covered Boeing wing during taxiing after the crew told him to stop whingeing about the fact that they hadn't deiced. He was arrested and imprisoned for a couple of days before diplomatic pressure was put onto the authorities. My next visit there I watched a snow storm fly off the wing during rotation from another of that companies airplanes.

I have had contact with three different aviation authorities and one military authority in my career and have had a 50% success rate with an appropriate response.

I recently asked an aviation authority about EMI (or PDI ) after having an argument with an ignorant passenger who decided to turn is I pod on during approach. The FO told me that his employer put pressure on them not to report incidents as it delayed the return flight.

Two emails apparently were not received by the authority. Six phone calls later I spoke with an flight operations inspector whose first question was do I have a grudge against the operator!

As far as I am concerned the more information that is available the more we can stop the illegal operations, dangerous flying practices, substandard aircraft design /manufacture and the pilots who are incapable of manual flying of sophisticated (and sometimes flawed) equipment.

Fortunately I have done them/ watched them/ flown them/ and taken over the controls.- And survived which some of my mates haven't!!!!
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