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Section 9  Safety Assurance System: Monitor Cockpit Voice Recorders

Indicates new/changed information.

Source Basis:

    Section 23.1457, Cockpit Voice Recorders.

    Section 25.1457, Cockpit Voice Recorders.

    Section 27.1457, Cockpit Voice Recorders.

    Section 29.1457, Cockpit Voice Recorders.

    Section 91.609, Flight Data Recorders and Cockpit Voice Recorders.

    Section 121.227, Pressure Cross-Feed Arrangements.

    Section 121.359, Cockpit Voice Recorders.

    Section 125.227, Cockpit Voice Recorders.

    Section 129.24, Cockpit Voice Recorders.

    Section 135.151, Cockpit Voice Recorders.

    Title 49 United States Code (49 U.S.C.) § 1114, Disclosure, Availability, and Use of Information.


Indicates new/changed information.

A.    Program Tracking and Reporting Subsystem (PTRS) Activity Codes. For Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) parts 91 and 125 use:

1)    Maintenance:

    Ramp Inspection: 3627.

    Spot Inspection: 3628.

    Cockpit En Route Inspection: 3629.

2)    Avionics:

    Ramp Inspection: 5627.

    Spot Inspection: 5628.

    Cockpit En Route Inspection: 5629.

Indicates new/changed information.

B.    Safety Assurance System (SAS). For 14 CFR parts 121 and 135, use SAS automation. This section is related to SAS Element 4.6.1 (AW) Avionics Special Emphasis Programs.

4-1552    OBJECTIVE. This section provides guidance in monitoring cockpit voice recorders (CVR) during spot, ramp, and cockpit en route inspections.

4-1553    GENERAL. Title 14 CFR requires that certain aircraft be equipped with a CVR that meets approved design and installation criteria. The regulations also stipulate that the data obtained from the CVR cannot be used in any civil penalty or certificate action.

NOTE:  This does not negate the aviation safety inspector’s (ASI) authority and responsibility to monitor the CVR during the performance of airworthiness surveillance functions.

Indicates new/changed information.

A.    Requirements of CVR Maintenance Procedures. The Avionics ASI is responsible for determining that the maintenance procedures ensure that tests are conducted according to procedures provided by the CVR manufacturer and shall include, at a minimum, listening to the recorded signals on each channel to verify that the audio is being recorded properly, is intelligible, and is free from electrical noise or other interference. Any review of recorded audio should be from a timeframe where the aircraft is in operation, or as a minimum, with powerplants operating.

NOTE:  Pay particular attention to tape-based CVRs. These devices are at the end of their service life and may not be supported with accurate service documents and parts. Tape-based systems are subject to calendar and hourly life limits not associated with CVRs equipped with non‑mechanical recoding media.

B.    Monitoring the CVR. There are no restrictions in the regulations that prevent periodic monitoring of the CVR as a method of surveillance.

1)    ASIs are cautioned against monitoring CVR data for any purpose other than determining the quality of the recording.
2)    Monitoring should be done only to the extent necessary to determine that the quality of reproduction and maintenance of the CVR is adequate.

C.    Acoustic Underwater Locating Device (ULD) Maintenance.

1)    To ensure the timely activation of ULDs associated with CVRs, Avionics ASIs should evaluate their certificate holder’s maintenance and inspection programs to ensure that procedures for testing ULDs are conducted concurrently with battery replacement in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations.
2)    Operators’ maintenance or inspection programs should also be evaluated to ensure that operational testing is being accomplished, consistent with the CVR or ULD manufacturer’s recommended procedures, at specified intervals and, when possible, in conjunction with a numbered or phase inspection (e.g., “A,” “B,” or “C” check).
3)    These requirements must be reflected on work cards or other inspection cards to ensure system‑wide compliance.


A.    Prerequisites. Experience with the equipment being inspected.

B.    Coordination. This task requires coordination with the operator.


A.    References (current editions).

Indicates new/changed information.

    Advisory Circular (AC) 20-186, Airworthiness and Operational Approval of Cockpit Voice Recorder Systems;

    Volume 6, Chapter 2, Section 4, Safety Assurance System: Ramp Inspections for Part 91K, 125, 141, 142 Operators and Part 121 and 135 Air Carriers;

    Volume 6, Chapter 2, Section 6, Safety Assurance System: Conduct Spot Inspection of a Program Manager/Operator’s Aircraft; and

    Volume 6, Chapter 2, Section 9, Safety Assurance System: Cockpit En Route Inspections.

B.    Forms. FAA Form 8430-13, Request for Access to Aircraft.

C.    Job Aids. None.

4-1556    PROCEDURES.

A.    Initiate the Inspection. See Volume 6, Chapter 2, Sections 4, 6, and 9, as applicable.

B.    Monitor the CVR.

1)    If this task is being done as part of an en route inspection, obtain permission from the pilot in command (PIC) before plugging into the CVR system.

NOTE:  Be aware that not all phone jacks on CVR cockpit monitors are wired for operation.

2)    If this task is being done as part of a spot or ramp inspection, accomplish the following:
a)    Coordinate with the maintenance supervisor before conducting the inspection.
b)    Monitor the in-progress maintenance to ensure that the CVR is being evaluated for performance of its intended function. Check all channels to ensure that the audio is being recorded properly, is intelligible, and is free from electrical noise or other interference.
3)    Monitor the cockpit area microphone to ensure that it satisfactorily picks up all cockpit audio.

NOTE:  Be aware that the quality of reproduction of some CVRs can be affected by ground operation of auxiliary power units (APU) and ground power units (GPU).

4)    Review the certificate holder’s maintenance procedures for acoustic ULDs to ensure that the manufacturer’s recommendations are closely followed, including the procedures for the battery check.

C.    Analyze Results. See Volume 6, Chapter 2, Sections 4, 6, and 9, as applicable.

4-1557    TASK OUTCOMES.

A.    Complete the PTRS Record. For part 125.

B.    Follow SAS Guidance Modules 4 and 5. For parts 121/135.

C.    Complete the Task. See Volume 6, Chapter 2, Sections 4, 6, and 9, as applicable.

D.    Document the Task. File all supporting paperwork in the applicant’s office file.

4-1558    FUTURE ACTIVITIES. Follow SAS guidance.

RESERVED. Paragraphs 4-1559 through 4-1575.