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AIRs and Airborne Image Recording Systems (AIRS) have been recommended by some Accident Investigation Authorities as an additional tool for accident investigations.

Whilst IFALPA strongly supports initiatives to improve safety, the Federation believes that the use of AIR data would not provide significant added value to an accident investigation. The extensive UK CAA study on the subject published as CAP 762 (2006) shows that, regardless of any additional information that AIRs might give, visual data is also subject to misinterpretation, which can lead the investigation astray.

The on-going misuse of audio recordings, which often end up being leaked to the media and on the public domain, with examples including American Airlines flight 965, GOL flight 1907 and more recently Germanwings flight 4U9525, clearly shows the limitations of ICAO Annex 13’s provisions on CVR data protection. In light of thegeneral public’s desire for sensational pictures, IFALPA has absolutely no doubt that AIR data would follow the same path and that the protection of video recordings could not be ensured. Should AIRs be allowed, it would only be a matter of time before videos of the flight deck appear on various media.

Considering the extremely low rate of accidents in commercial aviation, the theoretical gain provided by AIR use in an accident investigation would be minimal and has not been proven to enhance safety. This is to be weighed against the massive infringement of privacy represented by video recordings, as well as the fundamental personal rights of the flight crews.

Therefore, until the misuse of recordings and transcripts has been effectively prevented, IFALPA will remain strongly opposed to any image recorders which capture any part of the anatomy of the operating crew.

The Federation supports expanding the existing technology of the Flight DATA Recorder (FDR) to provide a better understanding of the state of the aircraft and believes that Safety Management is the most effective way ahead for proactive safety improvement.

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