Use of Area Recordings

Use of Area Recordings

33RD ANNUAL CONFERENCE, Ottawa, Canada, 18-22 April 1994

WP No. 151

Use of Area Recordings

Introduction

IFATCA has produced a policy on Accident / Incident investigation in order that air traffic controllers can contribute fully to an investigation (IFATCA Manual pages 4421 & 4422). Audio and/or visual recordings and transcripts of air traffic control communications are intended to provide a record of such communications for use in the investigation of accidents and incidents. At the 1993 Christchurch Conference (W.P.129), SC 7 identified the requirements to review existing IFATCA policy on the use of recorded data, and the need to determine a definition for the term “recorded data”. The conference decided there was not a requirement to specifically define “recorded data”. As a result of input received from one Member Association on the use of area recordings, SC 7 decided to prepare a working paper on this subject for the 1994 Conference.

Discussion

For the purpose of clarity, an area recording may generally be defined as any type of recording instituted in an air traffic control operations room that records accurately the conversation of controllers on a continuous basis. The equivalent on an aircraft would be a cockpit voice recorder. An area recording could also include an accurate visual recording of the environment within an air traffic control operations room.

The use of area recordings, in some cases, would assist in the investigation of an accident or incident however, such recordings are an invasion of privacy. Accordingly, such recordings have to be used judiciously. Notwithstanding the above, visual area recorders should only be used for the purpose of recording information that is actually displayed on the controller’s radar display(s), information display(s), and electronic control panels.

As area recordings are similar to cockpit voice recordings, the use of such recordings should be similar. Accordingly, area recordings should only be used for accident investigation purposes. Area recordings should not be used for incident investigation or for any purpose other than accident investigation.

Area recordings should be restricted to accident prevention purposes and should therefore not be used in any criminal or civil litigation or disciplinary proceedings of any kind. Following an accident the content of the area recording, in part or in whole, should not be made available to any person outside the investigation or after it is completed. If pertinent to the analysis of the accident, a carefully worded summary of the area recording may be made available as part of the final report.

In order to protect controllers, legislation should be in place prior to the installation of area recordings which prohibits the use of any area recorder information against a controller in any criminal or civil litigation or disciplinary proceedings of any kind. The legislation should provide for substantial monetary penalties and/or imprisonment for any breach of the legislation. Except when an accident occurs, area recordings should be capable of being erased when a controller is relieved from his position. Controllers should have prompt confirmation of the erasure. This could be accomplished by a loop recorder or by other electronic means where a controller could erase the area recording after being relieved from his position.

Conclusion

The use of area recordings has the potential to assist in the investigation of an accident. Prior to the installation of area recorders in an ATC operations room, restrictions on the use of such recordings has to be in place.

Recommendations

Change paragraph 2.1.10 on page 4442 of IFATCA Manual to read:

“Except for area recordings, recorded data…”.

Insert a new paragraph, 2.1.13 on page 4422 of IFATCA Manual to read:

An area recording may generally be defined as any type of recording, audio and/or visual, instituted in an air traffic control operations room that records accurately, the conversation of controllers and the environment within an air traffic control operations room on a continuous basis.

Insert a new paragraph 2.1.14 on page 4422 of IFATCA Manual to read:

Area recordings shall only be used for accident investigation purposes.

Insert a new paragraph 2.1.15 on page 4422 of IFATCA Manual to read:

Notwithstanding paragraph 2.1.13, visual area recorders are to be usedonly for the purpose of recording information that is actually displayed on the controllers radar display(s), information display(s), flight data boards and electronic control panels.

Insert a new paragraph 2.1.16 on page 4422 of IFATCA Manual to read:

Prior to the installation of area recorders, legislation shall be in place which prohibits the use of any area recorder information against a controller in any criminal or civil litigation or disciplinary proceedings of any kind. The legislation should provide for substantial monetary penalties and/or imprisonment for any breach of the legislation.

Insert a new paragraph 2.1.17 on page 4422 of IFATCA Manual to read:

Except when an accident occurs, area recordings shall be capable of being erased when a controller is relieved from his position. Controllers shall have prompt confirmation of the erasure. Agreement between the Member Association and the employer on procedures for the erasure of area recordings shall be established prior to the operation of area recorders.

Re-number paragraphs on page 4422 of IFATCA Manual in the following manner:

Current paragraph 2.1.13 becomes 2.1.18.

Current paragraph 2.1.14 becomes 2.1.19.

Last Update: September 28, 2020  

December 23, 2019   266   Jean-Francois Lepage    1994    

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