Brexit and Aviation 39

Accident Recorder

Reading reports of air accidents is not everybody’s cup of tea.  Nevertheless, the insights they contain are a constant reminder that no matter how safe civil aviation maybe, it can always be better.  There’s always something to learn.

This week, US accident investigators issued a report on what could have been an immense catastrophe.  Planes full of passengers came within 60 feet of each other as an Air Canada flight[1] was about to land on a taxiway by mistake.  This happened just before midnight on 7 July 2017 in San Francisco.  The US National Transportation Safety Board (NSTB) said that: “Over 1,000 people were at imminent risk of serious injury or death.”

As people have commented this is a stark reminder of the worst civil aviation accident that ever occurred.  In 1977, 593 people died when two Boeing 747 planes collided on a runway in Tenerife on the Canary Islands.

Because of the San Francisco incident, the NTSB is considering recommending that accident cockpit voice recorders record the last 25 hours of flying time.  The current US rule is for 2 hours and then the recording overwrites.

So, what has this got to do with Brexit?

After a series of accidents in the last decade, including the Malaysian Boeing 777 mysteriously lost over the ocean (flight MH370), Europe acted.  A detailed rulemaking process resulted in a EU Regulation[2] that includes key changes to mandatory accident flight recorder rules.  These required changes to planes that must be made in a practical manner to meet a deadline specified in the EU Regulation[3].  The rule applies to large planes manufactured after 1 January 2021.  Clearly, that date is after Brexit’s infamous 29 March 2019.  I cannot imagine that, whether the UK is in the EU or not, it would make any changes to this planned implementation date.  However, a mandatory action, like this one must be incorporated in the applicable national legislation.  That is how it would be applied to British registered planes.

That’s the interesting point.  Will all those European actions with implementation dates after 29 March 2019 be copied into UK law?  It would be good to see the answer “yes” written down.

POST POST NOTE: I hear the answer is “no”.  Although all the applicable European law will be copied into UK law a mandatory date that is in the future will be edited out.




[2] COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) 2015/2338 of 11 December 2015 amending Regulation (EU) No 965/2012 as regards requirements for flight recorders, underwater locating devices and aircraft tracking systems.


[3] ….with respect to the carriage of CVRs with extended recording duration for large aeroplanes, provision should be made for the introduction of CVR with a recording duration of 25 hours on board aircraft, manufactured after 1 January 2021, with a maximum certificated take-off mass of over 27 000 kg.

Author: johnwvincent

Our man in Southern England

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