Jan. 13, 2015

As part of a series of on-going meetings, NBAA representatives met with the FAA Chief Counsel’s Office last month to discuss several issues, including a recent interpretation regarding cockpit voice recorders (CVRs).

An interpretation issued on Oct. 28, 2014, has caused some concern among Part 135 operators using multiengine turbine powered aircraft with six or more passenger seats, which are operated single pilot. Previously, the FAA has granted approval of such operations without an installed CVR, but the interpretation indicates this may no longer be permitted.

Review the interpretation letter.

In order to operate under IFR, §135.101 requires certificate holders to fly with a second-in-command, except as provided in §135.105. According to §135.105, operators can fly without a second-in-command if it is equipped with an operative approved autopilot system. It has long been understood, by both the FAA and the industry, that because two pilots are not required by the operating rules that a CVR would not be required in aircraft meeting the conditions outlined in §135.151(a):

No person may operate a multiengine, turbine-powered airplane or rotorcraft having a passenger seating configuration of six or more and for which two pilots are required by certification or operating rules unless it is equipped with an approved cockpit voice recorder (emphasis added)…

Despite aircraft being operated single pilot in accordance with the rules, the interpretation states, “The exemption in§135.105 cannot be used to negate other operating or certification requirements that are not referenced, including an equipage rule such as §135.151.” Since this is inconsistent with the long- standing application of the rules, soon after the interpretation was issued, NBAA began working with the National Air Transportation Association and the General Aviation Manufacturers Association to address the confusion.

NBAA staff and members of the Regulatory Issues Advisory Group raised the issue at a previously scheduled meeting with the FAA’s Chief Counsel Reggie Govan, and Deputy Chief Counsel Pat McNall on Dec. 17. NBAA agrees with the position that CVRs are required when the autopilot is inoperable or the aircraft is type certificated for two pilots. However, the interpretation indicates a CVR is required for normal operations, as well. NBAA sent a follow-up letter asking for clarification, and the FAA said it would look into the matter.

Review the follow-up letter to the chief counsel.

For more information, email ops@nbaa.org or call (202) 783-8250.