Policy Regarding Datalink Communications Recording Requirements, 11108-11111 [2015-04158]

Download as PDF 11108 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 40 / Monday, March 2, 2015 / Rules and Regulations in the Federal Register on December 15, 2014, that made minor adjustments to the boundary descriptions of restricted areas R–2932, R–2933, R–2934 and R– 2935 at Cape Canaveral, FL. Due to a submission error, one latitude/longitude point was omitted from the description of restricted area R–2935, Cape Canaveral, FL. This action corrects the boundary description of R–2935 by adding the missing point. DATES: Effective date 0901 UTC, March 5, 2015. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Paul Gallant, Airspace Policy and Regulations Group, AJV–11, Office of Airspace Services, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone: (202) 267–8783. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background On December 15, 2014, the FAA published a final rule; technical amendment in the Federal Register that made minor adjustments to the boundary descriptions of restricted areas R–2932, R–2933, R–2934 and R– 2935 at Cape Canaveral, FL (79 FR 74016). Subsequent to publication, it was determined that one latitude/ longitude coordinate had been omitted from the boundary description of restricted area R–2935. The omission causes a slight gap between the boundaries of R–2935 and adjacent restricted areas. This correction inserts ‘‘lat. 28°25′01″ N., long 80°37′59″ W.,’’ between the points ‘‘lat. 28°25′01″ N., long. 80°41′44″ W.,’’ and ‘‘lat. 28°24′31″ N., long. 80°29′52″ W.’’ List of Subjects in 14 CFR Part 73 Airspace, Prohibited areas, Restricted areas. Correction to Final Rule; Technical Amendment wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES PART 73—SPECIAL USE AIRSPACE 1. The authority citation for part 73 continues to read as follows: ■ Authority: 49 U.S.C. 106(g), 40103, 40113, 40120; E.O. 10854, 24 FR 9565, 3 CFR, 1959– 1963 Comp., p. 389. * * [Corrected] * VerDate Sep<11>2014 * * 14:17 Feb 27, 2015 Jkt 235001 On page 74018, first column, remove the current boundaries and add in its place the following: Boundaries. Beginning at lat. 28°47′21″ N., long. 81°04′59″ W.; to lat. 28°58′02″ N., long. 80°46′58″ W.; thence 3 NM from and parallel to the shoreline; to lat. 28°51′16″ N., long. 80°42′29″ W.; to lat. 28°51′16″ N., long. 80°47′14″ W.; to lat. 28°49′11″ N., long. 80°50′44″ W.; to lat. 28°38′01″ N., long. 80°47′01″ W.; to lat. 28°31′21″ N., long. 80°43′49″ W.; to lat. 28°25′01″ N., long. 80°41′44″ W.; to lat. 28°25′01″ N., long. 80°37′59″ W.; to lat. 28°24′31″ N., long. 80°29′52″ W.; thence 3 NM from and parallel to the shoreline; to lat. 28°19′01″ N., long. 80°33′00″ W.; to lat. 28°19′01″ N., long. 80°46′29″ W.; to the point of beginning. Issued in Washington, DC, on February 19, 2015. Gary A. Norek, Manager, Airspace Policy and Regulations Group. [FR Doc. 2015–04290 Filed 2–27–15; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–13–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Aviation Administration 14 CFR Parts 91, 121, 125, and 135 [Docket No. FAA–2015–0289] Policy Regarding Datalink Communications Recording Requirements Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Transportation (DOT). ACTION: Policy update and clarification; request for comments. AGENCY: This policy statement updates and clarifies how the FAA determines when datalink communications must be recorded as a function of the cockpit voice recorder operational regulations. This policy update eliminates unneeded limitations in current policy, and restates the FAA’s intent that the requirement function as a performancebased regulation. DATES: Effective March 2, 2015. Comments must be received by June 1, 2015. ADDRESSES: Send comments identified by docket number FAA–2015–0289 using any of the following methods: • Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for sending your comments electronically. SUMMARY: Accordingly, pursuant to the authority delegated to me, the boundary description of restricted area R–2935 Cape Canaveral, FL, as published in the Federal Register on December 15, 2014 (79 FR 74016) (FR Doc. 2014–29268) is corrected under the description as follows: § 73.29 R–2935 Cape Canaveral, FL [Corrected] PO 00000 Frm 00032 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 • Mail: Send comments to Docket Operations, M–30; U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room W12–140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590–0001. • Hand Delivery or Courier: Take comments to Docket Operations in Room W12–140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. • Fax: Fax comments to Docket Operations at (202) 493–2251. Privacy: In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits comments from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT posts these comments, without edit, including any personal information the commenter provides, to www.regulations.gov, as described in the system of records notice (DOT/ALL– 14 FDMS), which can be reviewed at www.dot.gov/privacy. Docket: Background documents or comments received may be read at http://www.regulations.gov at any time. Follow the online instructions for accessing the docket or Docket Operations in Room W12–140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For technical questions concerning this action contact Tim Shaver, Flight Standards Service, Aircraft Maintenance Division—Avionics Maintenance Branch, AFS–360, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone: (202) 267–1675, Fax: (202) 267–1813, email: tim.shaver@faa.gov. For legal questions concerning this action contact Karen Petronis, Senior Attorney, Regulations Division, AGC– 200, Office of the Chief Counsel, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 20591; telephone: (202) 267–8018, email: Karen.Petronis@ faa.gov. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background In 2008, the FAA promulgated several amendments to the flight recorder regulations of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (73 FR 12542, March 7, 2008; Docket No. FAA–2005– 20245). Those regulations amended the requirements for cockpit voice recorders (CVR) and digital flight data recorders (DFDR) and affected certain air carriers, operators, and aircraft manufacturers. In amending the regulations, the FAA E:\FR\FM\02MRR1.SGM 02MRR1 wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 40 / Monday, March 2, 2015 / Rules and Regulations increased the duration of certain CVR recordings; increased the data recording rate for certain DFDR parameters; required the physical separation of the DFDR and CVR; required improved reliability of the power supplies to both the CVR and DFDR; and required that datalink communications to or from an aircraft be recorded if datalink communication (DLC) equipment is installed. The changes were based on recommendations issued by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) following its investigations of several accidents and incidents, and included other revisions the FAA determined necessary. These changes to CVR and DFDR systems were intended to improve the quality and quantity of information recorded and retained for accident and incident investigations. When the rule was promulgated, the FAA recognized that emergent DLC technology was changing the equipment and means used by pilots to communicate. While the 2008 regulations did not mandate the installation of datalink communication equipment, the FAA recognized the value of the data communications on the aircraft equipped with DLC, and the need for communicated data to be recorded. In the preamble to the 2008 final rule, the FAA discussed a range of comments received about datalink communications, including compatibility with international standards, compliance time, recording capacities, and the application of the requirement to existing datalink capabilities. Many of the FAA’s responses to those comments indicated that the requirement to record would depend on the dates of certification, whether the certification was at manufacture or was a retrofit, the extent of equipment installation and functionality, the scope of the message set and changes made to it. In retaining the installation of DLC as optional, but making recording mandatory at installation, the FAA expected that the expansion of datalink technology and its increasing value to operators would result in routine recordation of the communications. Since 2010, implementation of the Controller Pilot Data Link Communications (CPDLC) recording requirement has become more complex than anticipated. The FAA has been presented with a greater number of discrete aircraft equipment installations than expected when the rule was promulgated. As such, individual decisions on whether the recording rule applied have become difficult to make consistently within the scope of our VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:17 Feb 27, 2015 Jkt 235001 original guidance. At issue are aircraft that were manufactured before the effective date of the rule (December 6, 2010) that require widely varying levels of additional CPDLC equipment or software to be fully functional. Regulatory Basis The regulation requires recordation of the data on the CVR, and was added to the CVR sections of various operating rules in 14 CFR. These regulations were linked to the certification regulations for the particular aircraft, which refer to an approved data message set that must be recorded from the communications unit that translates the signal into data usable by the flight crew (in most cases the flight management system). Rather than define a specific message set, the FAA intended that the requirement be performance based to account for the differing needs and equipage of operators and the evolution of data capabilities. There are two guidance documents that apply to datalink communications. First, Advisory Circular, AC 20–160— Onboard Recording of Controller Pilot Data Link Communication (CPDLC) in Crash Survivable Memory, identifies CPDLC messages that may be approved for inclusion in an approved message set. We regularly review this document as new DLC systems and capabilities are developed, the need for specific information changes, and coordination with other international regulating entities occurs. The second guidance document is an FAA information bulletin, InFO 10016, released August 16, 2010, which was intended to present in more detail the circumstances that make the recordation requirement applicable to a specific aircraft. When applied to individual aircraft, however, the guidance documents raised unanticipated questions regarding when the requirement would apply, including the effect of equipment changes, and whether the timing of certain changes could alter the applicability of the recording requirement. For example, while the FAA recognized that there were aircraft with DLC system design approvals established before the effective date of the rule, the question arose whether simple activation of the same system (such as by a software modification) would make recording mandatory. Since the system designs were approved prior to the rule, they would not have included DLC recording as part of the initial certification requirements, either for the system or the message set. The InFO included guidance on upgrading existing aircraft with DLC recording PO 00000 Frm 00033 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 11109 capability, which included a decision process requiring consideration of multiple factors, such as the date of manufacture of the aircraft, whether installation of both a CVR and a flight data recorder were required, the date of installation of any datalink equipment on the aircraft, whether the datalink equipment had an approved message set, whether a supplemental type certificate was required to install or activate the datalink equipment, and whether a software change alone was sufficient to make the data link recording requirement applicable to a particular aircraft. Current Operating Environment Since the 2008 rules were promulgated, domestic CPDLC has expanded and evolved, and is poised to become a significant means to enhance safety, efficiency and capacity in the domestic national airspace system (NAS). The FAA is now actively promoting the use of this technology, and has invested in the Data Communications Program (Data Comm) to provide more robust DLC services between pilots and air traffic controllers. Data Comm will provide a data link between the ground and flight deck avionics for safety-of-flight air traffic control clearances, instructions, traffic flow management messages, flight crew requests, and reports. Data Comm has also become a core component of NextGen, as Data Comm provides needed enhancements for communication infrastructure. Data Comm is expected to reduce the impact of ground delays that result from airport reconfigurations, weather, and congestion; reduce communication errors; improve controller and pilot efficiency through automated information exchange; enable broader use of NextGen services (e.g., enhanced re-routes, trajectory operations); and increase controller productivity, leading to increased NAS capacity. The FAA is developing data communications capability in two phases. Segment 1 Phase 1 (S1P1) will deploy the CPDLC departure clearance capability in the tower domain. Segment 1 Phase 2 (S1P2) will deliver data communications services to the en route domain (such as airborne reroutes, transfer of communications/initial check-in, and direct-to-fix routing). A second segment enhancing these services is also planned. Collectively, these services will contribute to a reduction in flight delays, reduced environmental impacts, and more efficient routes for aircraft resulting in increased operational efficiency, added flexibility, and enhanced safety. In order E:\FR\FM\02MRR1.SGM 02MRR1 wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES 11110 Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 40 / Monday, March 2, 2015 / Rules and Regulations to realize the benefits of Data Comm in the NAS domestically, additional aircraft beyond those that currently support Data Comm in the Oceanic airspace are needed. As part of the equipage initiative to support Data Comm, operators seeking to incorporate DLC equipment through the FAA-sponsored Data Comm program have reported that current interpretations of the rule and the guidance materials have resulted in an inconsistent determination of when DLC recordation is required on individual aircraft. The resulting uncertainty has delayed the installation of DLC equipment, with operators reporting significant costs to modify aircraft to record this data if the aircraft is not already equipped with the necessary wiring and upgraded information management systems. The difficulties and inconsistencies in application of the recordation criteria are reducing industry participation in the Data Comm program. As part of the NexGen Implementation Working Group (NIWG) activities in 2014, industry representatives noted that their declining participation in the Data Comm program was the result of the additional cost of the recording equipment, further delaying the goal of the fleet size needed to make the system effective. In 2014, the NIWG recommended that the Performance-based Operations Rulemaking Committee (PARC) develop a recommendation on the recording rule and present it to the FAA. The PARC is an FAA-sponsored rulemaking committee that has both the FAA and aviation community at large among its members, and which makes recommendations to FAA management on the issues it addresses. Since 2005, the PARC has maintained a Communications Working Group (CWG) to address the implementation of aeronautical communications systems. In 2012, the PARC CWG began a review of airborne datalink recording capabilities. The interplay of the recording regulation and the implementation of NextGen were confirmed by the findings of the PARC in its report it submitted to the FAA in October 2014. The FAA met with the PARC CWG and the Data Comm program participants and came to the conclusions already discussed— that determining whether datalink recording is required on individual aircraft manufactured before the effective date of the rule is difficult, resulting in confused and inconsistent decision making; and that the Datalink Recording (DLR) equipage policy defined in the current InFO 10016 VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:17 Feb 27, 2015 Jkt 235001 leaves questions as to whether certain equipment changes and revisions to DLC systems and certification documentation caused the recordation requirement to apply. Cost of Modification Since datalink recording itself was still optional under the 2008 regulation, and the use of datalink communication was still limited, neither the recording requirement nor the guidance focused on the cost of the installing recording equipment or on the safety benefits of DLC use. The optional installation and varied use on in-service aircraft left the FAA unable to estimate whether, when, or how many existing aircraft would install DLC systems with CPDLC functionality. The FAA anticipated that the economic benefits of DLC to an operator would be the determining factor in a decision whether to install it at all. With the recent input of the NIWG and the PARC, the economic impact of installing a required DLC recording system is becoming better understood. Cost data have been collected from the airline partners that are participating in the Data Comm program and the PARC. The reported cost for installing the recording functions is $135,000 per aircraft. The costs associated with equipping an aircraft manufactured before 2010 with datalink recording were approximated as follows: • CVR Hardware—$18,000 • CVR Control Panel—$7,000 • Non-Recurring Engineering (CVR)— $10,000 • New Communications Management Unit (CMU) (recording capable)— $35,000 • New CMU software that enables datalink recording—$10,000 • Non-recurring Engineering (CMU)— $10,000 • Installation Kits (CVR/CMU combined)—$10,000 • Installation Labor—$15,000 • Aircraft out of service costs (wiring run and access required)—$20,000 Datalink Communication Safety Benefits While the efficiency benefits of CPDLC had been projected and quantified in several studies that were available at the time of the rulemaking, the safety benefits had not been the subject of similar study. In 2012, the FAA began a preliminary analysis on the potential safety benefits arising from the implementation of two systems, the Future Air Navigation System (FANS 1/A) CPDLC and Automatic Dependent Surveillance—Contract (ADS–C), and presented the results to the North PO 00000 Frm 00034 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 Atlantic Safety Analysis Reduced Separation Implementation Group (NAT SARSIG) in 2012. As the summary of discussions and conclusions of the meeting states, ‘‘These preliminary results indicated a significant potential for enhancing safety in the International Civil Aviation Organization North Atlantic Region (ICAO NAT) Region, particularly in the vertical dimension.’’ (See Appendix L to the Summary of Discussions of the NAT SARSIG Sixteenth Meeting, October 2012, included in the docket for this notice). The NAT SARSIG indicated that projected safety benefits include improved conformance monitoring and intervention capability through early detection and resolution of errors via integrated FANS 1/A CPDLC and ADS–C; a reduction in errors associated with manual pilot data entry of clearances resulting from the ability to load data link clearances directly into the Flight Management System (FMS); and a reduction in the duration of loss of communication between aircraft and air traffic control (ATC) when transferring ATC contact by using a reviewable message. The ability to send reviewable messages is expected to significantly reduce several communications errors, such as read-back and hear-back errors, lack of read-back and hear-back, and audio interruptions. These types of communications errors impact ATC operations. As an example, failure to comply with an assigned altitude may result from not hearing the communication, hearing it incorrectly, or ATC not hearing a reply. In its report, the PARC recommended first that the FAA clarify its guidance material to indicate that the recordation requirement does not apply to certain cases of datalink retrofit including those aircraft (1) that have an existing certified datalink capability; (2) that can activate a datalink capability that was certified before the effective date of the rule; and (3) that modify installation modifications to certified data link capability that do not change the FANS 1/A or ATN B1 interoperability. The PARC also recommended that the FAA go further and revise the regulations to exclude any aircraft manufactured before the effective date of the rule from the requirement to record datalink communications messages, regardless of the date of installation of the DLC equipment. Finally, the PARC recommended that the FAA work with the European Aviation Safety Agency and ICAO to continue harmonizing data link recording rules, their applicability, and timelines. E:\FR\FM\02MRR1.SGM 02MRR1 wreier-aviles on DSK5TPTVN1PROD with RULES Federal Register / Vol. 80, No. 40 / Monday, March 2, 2015 / Rules and Regulations FAA Analysis The FAA has reviewed the PARC report and discussed the issue with various aviation organizations. Based on the data and recommendations received, the FAA concluded that a significant need for clarification and revision of current policy exits. The agency and the industry have made significant investment in data communications. These systems are expected to reduce communication errors and improve safety in the NAS as they enhance NAS efficiency and capacity. The FAA better understands the cost of installing DLR systems on aircraft that were designed and manufactured before the regulation was promulgated and no provisions for DLC recording were available. Most aircraft produced after the effective date of the rule have the base mechanisms for DLC already installed at manufacture, which significantly decreases the cost and impact of incorporating a recording component. Accordingly, the policy changes announced in this document are applicable to aircraft that were manufactured before December 6, 2010 (or April 6, 2012, if complying with part 91). The FAA agrees that the complexity of the current guidance has resulted in inconsistent application of the rule. The recording regulation was not intended to discourage the installation of datalink capability, and its applicability should not depend on the subjective interpretation of factors as minor as the day a previously installed system was turned on or the scope of changes to a previously approved DLC system. In order to maximize the safety and efficiency benefits of DLC use in the NAS, the FAA is simplifying its guidance regarding the applicability of the recording requirement for aircraft that were manufactured before the effective date of the rule. The target aircraft for this policy change represent approximately 30% of the current U.S. fleet operating under parts 121 and 135, as reported by the PARC. These 2,116 aircraft were manufactured prior to 2010 and had a certified DLC system that was available before the recordation rule became effective. This number will gradually decrease as these older aircraft are retired and replaced. Since DLC recordation was not required when these aircraft were manufactured, none of the messages associated with those certified systems were identified, making application of the regulation difficult and inconsistent. The FAA forecasts that by 2020, 34% of the U.S. fleet (approximately 2,200) will consist VerDate Sep<11>2014 14:17 Feb 27, 2015 Jkt 235001 of aircraft manufactured after 2010 that have DLC recording capability. Comments Requested While this policy update is effective on publication, the FAA seeks comment from interested persons regarding the application of the policy to affected operators. We are particularly interested in comments identifying the make/ model/series of aircraft that had a certified DLC design approval prior to the effective date of the rule, and any information regarding the economic impacts of the prior and revised polices, and descriptions of circumstances for which application of the regulation remains unclear following this policy update. Updated Policy Datalink recording requirements are found in the operating regulations of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR), specifically in § 91.609, effective April 6, 2012; and in §§ 121.359, 125.227 and 135.151, effective December 6, 2010. These regulations each require that the subject airplanes or rotorcraft that install datalink communication equipment on or after [the effective date of the rule], must record all datalink messages as required by the certification rule applicable to the aircraft. This policy statement clarifies how the FAA defines the phrase ‘‘install datalink communication equipment’’ for purposes of the recordation requirement. Clarification of this policy and FAA guidance material is intended to assist FAA personnel and aircraft operators in determining when datalink recording is required. Definition of Datalink Communication Equipment The term ‘‘datalink communication equipment’’ as used in these regulations, means all of the components installed on the aircraft that are necessary to complete data communications. The equipment may vary for individual aircraft, but could include the Flight Management Computer; Communications Management Unit (CMU), or equipment with an equivalent function that hosts an approved message set (e.g., CPDLC application), the datalink router (e.g., hosted in the CMU) that routes the messages to the radios, any radios (e.g., VHF, HF Datalink, Satcom) that are used to transmit the messages using an approved message set, and any antennas associated with these radios. PO 00000 Frm 00035 Fmt 4700 Sfmt 4700 11111 Applicability In applying this regulation, aircraft are divided into two groups: Those manufactured on or after the effective date of the rule, and those manufactured before that date. Those airplanes or rotorcraft manufactured on or after the effective date, must record all datalink communications when both of the following conditions are met: • The aircraft is required to have both a cockpit voice recorder and a flight data recorder; and • The aircraft has datalink equipment installed that uses an approved message set (see FAA Advisory Circular 20–160). Those airplanes or rotorcraft manufactured before the effective date of the rule must record all datalink communications when both of the following conditions are met: • The aircraft is required to have both a cockpit voice recorder and a flight data recorder; and • The MAKE/MODEL/SERIES of the aircraft did not have any certified DLC equipment installation design approval (providing one or more of the messages identified in AC 20–160) prior to the effective date of the rule. The FAA InFO 10016 dated August 16, 2010 is cancelled. A revised InFO reflecting the policy changes noted here is under development and will be posted on the FAA Web site when completed. Issued in Washington, DC, on February 23, 2015. John S. Duncan, Director, Flight Standards Service. [FR Doc. 2015–04158 Filed 2–25–15; 11:15 am] BILLING CODE 4910–13–P DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration 15 CFR Part 922 [Docket No. 140903747–4747–01] RIN 0648–BE48 Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Regulations; Correction Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS), National Ocean Service (NOS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Commerce (DOC). ACTION: Correcting amendment. AGENCY: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is reinstating missing paragraphs of the SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\02MRR1.SGM 02MRR1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 80, Number 40 (Monday, March 2, 2015)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 11108-11111]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2015-04158]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Aviation Administration

14 CFR Parts 91, 121, 125, and 135

[Docket No. FAA-2015-0289]


Policy Regarding Datalink Communications Recording Requirements

AGENCY: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of 
Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Policy update and clarification; request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This policy statement updates and clarifies how the FAA 
determines when datalink communications must be recorded as a function 
of the cockpit voice recorder operational regulations. This policy 
update eliminates unneeded limitations in current policy, and restates 
the FAA's intent that the requirement function as a performance-based 
regulation.

DATES: Effective March 2, 2015. Comments must be received by June 1, 
2015.

ADDRESSES: Send comments identified by docket number FAA-2015-0289 
using any of the following methods:
     Federal eRulemaking Portal: Go to http://www.regulations.gov and follow the online instructions for sending your 
comments electronically.
     Mail: Send comments to Docket Operations, M-30; U.S. 
Department of Transportation (DOT), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Room 
W12-140, West Building Ground Floor, Washington, DC 20590-0001.
     Hand Delivery or Courier: Take comments to Docket 
Operations in Room W12-140 of the West Building Ground Floor at 1200 
New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., 
Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
     Fax: Fax comments to Docket Operations at (202) 493-2251.
    Privacy: In accordance with 5 U.S.C. 553(c), DOT solicits comments 
from the public to better inform its rulemaking process. DOT posts 
these comments, without edit, including any personal information the 
commenter provides, to www.regulations.gov, as described in the system 
of records notice (DOT/ALL-14 FDMS), which can be reviewed at 
www.dot.gov/privacy.
    Docket: Background documents or comments received may be read at 
http://www.regulations.gov at any time. Follow the online instructions 
for accessing the docket or Docket Operations in Room W12-140 of the 
West Building Ground Floor at 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, 
DC, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except Federal 
holidays.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For technical questions concerning 
this action contact Tim Shaver, Flight Standards Service, Aircraft 
Maintenance Division--Avionics Maintenance Branch, AFS-360, Federal 
Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., Washington, DC 
20591; telephone: (202) 267-1675, Fax: (202) 267-1813, email: 
tim.shaver@faa.gov.
    For legal questions concerning this action contact Karen Petronis, 
Senior Attorney, Regulations Division, AGC-200, Office of the Chief 
Counsel, Federal Aviation Administration, 800 Independence Avenue SW., 
Washington, DC 20591; telephone: (202) 267-8018, email: 
Karen.Petronis@faa.gov.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Background

    In 2008, the FAA promulgated several amendments to the flight 
recorder regulations of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (73 
FR 12542, March 7, 2008; Docket No. FAA-2005-20245). Those regulations 
amended the requirements for cockpit voice recorders (CVR) and digital 
flight data recorders (DFDR) and affected certain air carriers, 
operators, and aircraft manufacturers. In amending the regulations, the 
FAA

[[Page 11109]]

increased the duration of certain CVR recordings; increased the data 
recording rate for certain DFDR parameters; required the physical 
separation of the DFDR and CVR; required improved reliability of the 
power supplies to both the CVR and DFDR; and required that datalink 
communications to or from an aircraft be recorded if datalink 
communication (DLC) equipment is installed. The changes were based on 
recommendations issued by the National Transportation Safety Board 
(NTSB) following its investigations of several accidents and incidents, 
and included other revisions the FAA determined necessary. These 
changes to CVR and DFDR systems were intended to improve the quality 
and quantity of information recorded and retained for accident and 
incident investigations.
    When the rule was promulgated, the FAA recognized that emergent DLC 
technology was changing the equipment and means used by pilots to 
communicate. While the 2008 regulations did not mandate the 
installation of datalink communication equipment, the FAA recognized 
the value of the data communications on the aircraft equipped with DLC, 
and the need for communicated data to be recorded.
    In the preamble to the 2008 final rule, the FAA discussed a range 
of comments received about datalink communications, including 
compatibility with international standards, compliance time, recording 
capacities, and the application of the requirement to existing datalink 
capabilities. Many of the FAA's responses to those comments indicated 
that the requirement to record would depend on the dates of 
certification, whether the certification was at manufacture or was a 
retrofit, the extent of equipment installation and functionality, the 
scope of the message set and changes made to it. In retaining the 
installation of DLC as optional, but making recording mandatory at 
installation, the FAA expected that the expansion of datalink 
technology and its increasing value to operators would result in 
routine recordation of the communications.
    Since 2010, implementation of the Controller Pilot Data Link 
Communications (CPDLC) recording requirement has become more complex 
than anticipated. The FAA has been presented with a greater number of 
discrete aircraft equipment installations than expected when the rule 
was promulgated. As such, individual decisions on whether the recording 
rule applied have become difficult to make consistently within the 
scope of our original guidance. At issue are aircraft that were 
manufactured before the effective date of the rule (December 6, 2010) 
that require widely varying levels of additional CPDLC equipment or 
software to be fully functional.

Regulatory Basis

    The regulation requires recordation of the data on the CVR, and was 
added to the CVR sections of various operating rules in 14 CFR. These 
regulations were linked to the certification regulations for the 
particular aircraft, which refer to an approved data message set that 
must be recorded from the communications unit that translates the 
signal into data usable by the flight crew (in most cases the flight 
management system). Rather than define a specific message set, the FAA 
intended that the requirement be performance based to account for the 
differing needs and equipage of operators and the evolution of data 
capabilities.
    There are two guidance documents that apply to datalink 
communications. First, Advisory Circular, AC 20-160--Onboard Recording 
of Controller Pilot Data Link Communication (CPDLC) in Crash Survivable 
Memory, identifies CPDLC messages that may be approved for inclusion in 
an approved message set. We regularly review this document as new DLC 
systems and capabilities are developed, the need for specific 
information changes, and coordination with other international 
regulating entities occurs.
    The second guidance document is an FAA information bulletin, InFO 
10016, released August 16, 2010, which was intended to present in more 
detail the circumstances that make the recordation requirement 
applicable to a specific aircraft. When applied to individual aircraft, 
however, the guidance documents raised unanticipated questions 
regarding when the requirement would apply, including the effect of 
equipment changes, and whether the timing of certain changes could 
alter the applicability of the recording requirement.
    For example, while the FAA recognized that there were aircraft with 
DLC system design approvals established before the effective date of 
the rule, the question arose whether simple activation of the same 
system (such as by a software modification) would make recording 
mandatory. Since the system designs were approved prior to the rule, 
they would not have included DLC recording as part of the initial 
certification requirements, either for the system or the message set. 
The InFO included guidance on upgrading existing aircraft with DLC 
recording capability, which included a decision process requiring 
consideration of multiple factors, such as the date of manufacture of 
the aircraft, whether installation of both a CVR and a flight data 
recorder were required, the date of installation of any datalink 
equipment on the aircraft, whether the datalink equipment had an 
approved message set, whether a supplemental type certificate was 
required to install or activate the datalink equipment, and whether a 
software change alone was sufficient to make the data link recording 
requirement applicable to a particular aircraft.

Current Operating Environment

    Since the 2008 rules were promulgated, domestic CPDLC has expanded 
and evolved, and is poised to become a significant means to enhance 
safety, efficiency and capacity in the domestic national airspace 
system (NAS). The FAA is now actively promoting the use of this 
technology, and has invested in the Data Communications Program (Data 
Comm) to provide more robust DLC services between pilots and air 
traffic controllers. Data Comm will provide a data link between the 
ground and flight deck avionics for safety-of-flight air traffic 
control clearances, instructions, traffic flow management messages, 
flight crew requests, and reports. Data Comm has also become a core 
component of NextGen, as Data Comm provides needed enhancements for 
communication infrastructure. Data Comm is expected to reduce the 
impact of ground delays that result from airport reconfigurations, 
weather, and congestion; reduce communication errors; improve 
controller and pilot efficiency through automated information exchange; 
enable broader use of NextGen services (e.g., enhanced re-routes, 
trajectory operations); and increase controller productivity, leading 
to increased NAS capacity.
    The FAA is developing data communications capability in two phases. 
Segment 1 Phase 1 (S1P1) will deploy the CPDLC departure clearance 
capability in the tower domain. Segment 1 Phase 2 (S1P2) will deliver 
data communications services to the en route domain (such as airborne 
reroutes, transfer of communications/initial check-in, and direct-to-
fix routing). A second segment enhancing these services is also 
planned. Collectively, these services will contribute to a reduction in 
flight delays, reduced environmental impacts, and more efficient routes 
for aircraft resulting in increased operational efficiency, added 
flexibility, and enhanced safety. In order

[[Page 11110]]

to realize the benefits of Data Comm in the NAS domestically, 
additional aircraft beyond those that currently support Data Comm in 
the Oceanic airspace are needed.
    As part of the equipage initiative to support Data Comm, operators 
seeking to incorporate DLC equipment through the FAA-sponsored Data 
Comm program have reported that current interpretations of the rule and 
the guidance materials have resulted in an inconsistent determination 
of when DLC recordation is required on individual aircraft. The 
resulting uncertainty has delayed the installation of DLC equipment, 
with operators reporting significant costs to modify aircraft to record 
this data if the aircraft is not already equipped with the necessary 
wiring and upgraded information management systems. The difficulties 
and inconsistencies in application of the recordation criteria are 
reducing industry participation in the Data Comm program. As part of 
the NexGen Implementation Working Group (NIWG) activities in 2014, 
industry representatives noted that their declining participation in 
the Data Comm program was the result of the additional cost of the 
recording equipment, further delaying the goal of the fleet size needed 
to make the system effective.
    In 2014, the NIWG recommended that the Performance-based Operations 
Rulemaking Committee (PARC) develop a recommendation on the recording 
rule and present it to the FAA. The PARC is an FAA-sponsored rulemaking 
committee that has both the FAA and aviation community at large among 
its members, and which makes recommendations to FAA management on the 
issues it addresses. Since 2005, the PARC has maintained a 
Communications Working Group (CWG) to address the implementation of 
aeronautical communications systems. In 2012, the PARC CWG began a 
review of airborne datalink recording capabilities.
    The interplay of the recording regulation and the implementation of 
NextGen were confirmed by the findings of the PARC in its report it 
submitted to the FAA in October 2014. The FAA met with the PARC CWG and 
the Data Comm program participants and came to the conclusions already 
discussed--that determining whether datalink recording is required on 
individual aircraft manufactured before the effective date of the rule 
is difficult, resulting in confused and inconsistent decision making; 
and that the Datalink Recording (DLR) equipage policy defined in the 
current InFO 10016 leaves questions as to whether certain equipment 
changes and revisions to DLC systems and certification documentation 
caused the recordation requirement to apply.

Cost of Modification

    Since datalink recording itself was still optional under the 2008 
regulation, and the use of datalink communication was still limited, 
neither the recording requirement nor the guidance focused on the cost 
of the installing recording equipment or on the safety benefits of DLC 
use. The optional installation and varied use on in-service aircraft 
left the FAA unable to estimate whether, when, or how many existing 
aircraft would install DLC systems with CPDLC functionality. The FAA 
anticipated that the economic benefits of DLC to an operator would be 
the determining factor in a decision whether to install it at all. With 
the recent input of the NIWG and the PARC, the economic impact of 
installing a required DLC recording system is becoming better 
understood. Cost data have been collected from the airline partners 
that are participating in the Data Comm program and the PARC. The 
reported cost for installing the recording functions is $135,000 per 
aircraft. The costs associated with equipping an aircraft manufactured 
before 2010 with datalink recording were approximated as follows:

 CVR Hardware--$18,000
 CVR Control Panel--$7,000
 Non-Recurring Engineering (CVR)--$10,000
 New Communications Management Unit (CMU) (recording capable)--
$35,000
 New CMU software that enables datalink recording--$10,000
 Non-recurring Engineering (CMU)--$10,000
 Installation Kits (CVR/CMU combined)--$10,000
 Installation Labor--$15,000
 Aircraft out of service costs (wiring run and access 
required)--$20,000

Datalink Communication Safety Benefits

    While the efficiency benefits of CPDLC had been projected and 
quantified in several studies that were available at the time of the 
rulemaking, the safety benefits had not been the subject of similar 
study. In 2012, the FAA began a preliminary analysis on the potential 
safety benefits arising from the implementation of two systems, the 
Future Air Navigation System (FANS 1/A) CPDLC and Automatic Dependent 
Surveillance--Contract (ADS-C), and presented the results to the North 
Atlantic Safety Analysis Reduced Separation Implementation Group (NAT 
SARSIG) in 2012. As the summary of discussions and conclusions of the 
meeting states, ``These preliminary results indicated a significant 
potential for enhancing safety in the International Civil Aviation 
Organization North Atlantic Region (ICAO NAT) Region, particularly in 
the vertical dimension.'' (See Appendix L to the Summary of Discussions 
of the NAT SARSIG Sixteenth Meeting, October 2012, included in the 
docket for this notice). The NAT SARSIG indicated that projected safety 
benefits include improved conformance monitoring and intervention 
capability through early detection and resolution of errors via 
integrated FANS 1/A CPDLC and ADS-C; a reduction in errors associated 
with manual pilot data entry of clearances resulting from the ability 
to load data link clearances directly into the Flight Management System 
(FMS); and a reduction in the duration of loss of communication between 
aircraft and air traffic control (ATC) when transferring ATC contact by 
using a reviewable message.
    The ability to send reviewable messages is expected to 
significantly reduce several communications errors, such as read-back 
and hear-back errors, lack of read-back and hear-back, and audio 
interruptions. These types of communications errors impact ATC 
operations. As an example, failure to comply with an assigned altitude 
may result from not hearing the communication, hearing it incorrectly, 
or ATC not hearing a reply.
    In its report, the PARC recommended first that the FAA clarify its 
guidance material to indicate that the recordation requirement does not 
apply to certain cases of datalink retrofit including those aircraft 
(1) that have an existing certified datalink capability; (2) that can 
activate a datalink capability that was certified before the effective 
date of the rule; and (3) that modify installation modifications to 
certified data link capability that do not change the FANS 1/A or ATN 
B1 interoperability. The PARC also recommended that the FAA go further 
and revise the regulations to exclude any aircraft manufactured before 
the effective date of the rule from the requirement to record datalink 
communications messages, regardless of the date of installation of the 
DLC equipment. Finally, the PARC recommended that the FAA work with the 
European Aviation Safety Agency and ICAO to continue harmonizing data 
link recording rules, their applicability, and timelines.

[[Page 11111]]

FAA Analysis

    The FAA has reviewed the PARC report and discussed the issue with 
various aviation organizations. Based on the data and recommendations 
received, the FAA concluded that a significant need for clarification 
and revision of current policy exits. The agency and the industry have 
made significant investment in data communications. These systems are 
expected to reduce communication errors and improve safety in the NAS 
as they enhance NAS efficiency and capacity.
    The FAA better understands the cost of installing DLR systems on 
aircraft that were designed and manufactured before the regulation was 
promulgated and no provisions for DLC recording were available. Most 
aircraft produced after the effective date of the rule have the base 
mechanisms for DLC already installed at manufacture, which 
significantly decreases the cost and impact of incorporating a 
recording component. Accordingly, the policy changes announced in this 
document are applicable to aircraft that were manufactured before 
December 6, 2010 (or April 6, 2012, if complying with part 91).
    The FAA agrees that the complexity of the current guidance has 
resulted in inconsistent application of the rule. The recording 
regulation was not intended to discourage the installation of datalink 
capability, and its applicability should not depend on the subjective 
interpretation of factors as minor as the day a previously installed 
system was turned on or the scope of changes to a previously approved 
DLC system. In order to maximize the safety and efficiency benefits of 
DLC use in the NAS, the FAA is simplifying its guidance regarding the 
applicability of the recording requirement for aircraft that were 
manufactured before the effective date of the rule.
    The target aircraft for this policy change represent approximately 
30% of the current U.S. fleet operating under parts 121 and 135, as 
reported by the PARC. These 2,116 aircraft were manufactured prior to 
2010 and had a certified DLC system that was available before the 
recordation rule became effective. This number will gradually decrease 
as these older aircraft are retired and replaced. Since DLC recordation 
was not required when these aircraft were manufactured, none of the 
messages associated with those certified systems were identified, 
making application of the regulation difficult and inconsistent. The 
FAA forecasts that by 2020, 34% of the U.S. fleet (approximately 2,200) 
will consist of aircraft manufactured after 2010 that have DLC 
recording capability.

Comments Requested

    While this policy update is effective on publication, the FAA seeks 
comment from interested persons regarding the application of the policy 
to affected operators. We are particularly interested in comments 
identifying the make/model/series of aircraft that had a certified DLC 
design approval prior to the effective date of the rule, and any 
information regarding the economic impacts of the prior and revised 
polices, and descriptions of circumstances for which application of the 
regulation remains unclear following this policy update.

Updated Policy

    Datalink recording requirements are found in the operating 
regulations of Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR), 
specifically in Sec.  91.609, effective April 6, 2012; and in 
Sec. Sec.  121.359, 125.227 and 135.151, effective December 6, 2010. 
These regulations each require that the subject airplanes or rotorcraft 
that install datalink communication equipment on or after [the 
effective date of the rule], must record all datalink messages as 
required by the certification rule applicable to the aircraft.
    This policy statement clarifies how the FAA defines the phrase 
``install datalink communication equipment'' for purposes of the 
recordation requirement. Clarification of this policy and FAA guidance 
material is intended to assist FAA personnel and aircraft operators in 
determining when datalink recording is required.

Definition of Datalink Communication Equipment

    The term ``datalink communication equipment'' as used in these 
regulations, means all of the components installed on the aircraft that 
are necessary to complete data communications. The equipment may vary 
for individual aircraft, but could include the Flight Management 
Computer; Communications Management Unit (CMU), or equipment with an 
equivalent function that hosts an approved message set (e.g., CPDLC 
application), the datalink router (e.g., hosted in the CMU) that routes 
the messages to the radios, any radios (e.g., VHF, HF Datalink, Satcom) 
that are used to transmit the messages using an approved message set, 
and any antennas associated with these radios.

Applicability

    In applying this regulation, aircraft are divided into two groups: 
Those manufactured on or after the effective date of the rule, and 
those manufactured before that date.
    Those airplanes or rotorcraft manufactured on or after the 
effective date, must record all datalink communications when both of 
the following conditions are met:
     The aircraft is required to have both a cockpit voice 
recorder and a flight data recorder; and
     The aircraft has datalink equipment installed that uses an 
approved message set (see FAA Advisory Circular 20-160).
    Those airplanes or rotorcraft manufactured before the effective 
date of the rule must record all datalink communications when both of 
the following conditions are met:
     The aircraft is required to have both a cockpit voice 
recorder and a flight data recorder; and
     The MAKE/MODEL/SERIES of the aircraft did not have any 
certified DLC equipment installation design approval (providing one or 
more of the messages identified in AC 20-160) prior to the effective 
date of the rule.
    The FAA InFO 10016 dated August 16, 2010 is cancelled. A revised 
InFO reflecting the policy changes noted here is under development and 
will be posted on the FAA Web site when completed.

    Issued in Washington, DC, on February 23, 2015.
John S. Duncan,
Director, Flight Standards Service.
[FR Doc. 2015-04158 Filed 2-25-15; 11:15 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-13-P