MH370: Black box recording capacity needs to be revised

MH370: Black box recording capacity needs to be revised
IATA senior vice-president Kevin Hiatt.

KUALA LUMPUR: The global aviation industry may need to revise the recording capacity of an aircraft black box or flight data recorder following the Malaysia Airlines MH370 incident, says IATA senior vice-president for safety and flight operations Kevin Hiatt.

At present, the black box only records two hours of data before it overwrites the original data. That means only the last two hours of aircraft cockpit conversations will be on record if the black box is found after a crash.

"Past accident investigations actually focused on the last few minutes of the conversations between the pilot and the air traffic controller," he said.

"To have endless hours of nothing being said in the cockpit at any particular time - it has not been relevant to any type of accident investigation.

"There may be a revisit on this. But, because of past history, the cockpit voice recorders basically record over themselves after a certain period of time - two hours," he said after attending the first session of the IATA Ops Conference here yesterday.

"To draw the conclusion that we need to modify or do not modify it (the black box recording capacity) may be something that we can look at in the future."

Experts have said that cockpit conversations that took place during the crucial hours when MH370 disappeared from radar screens and made a turnback from its original route may not be available from the black box.

This is because the plane continued to fly for several hours after the turnback was made, and the black box may have recorded over those conversations.

Hiatt said all carriers certified by governments must have certain emergency response protocols established.

"This particular event (MH370), because of the nature of it, may cause us to revisit and see what other protocols could be built in," he said.

On March 25, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that MH370, which went off the radar screens while on its way from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, had later gone down in the southern Indian Ocean, west of Perth.

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