A new AAIB incident report
has led Cessna to produce Instructions For Continued Airworthiness on flight data recorder (FDR) data decoding and issue them to Citation Sovereign and Citation X operators after investigators discovered that Instructions for Continued Airworthiness (ICA) requirements were not being met.
The Sept. 30, 2010, incident involved a fuel cross-feed problem on a Cessna Citation Sovereign. (Get the full report, in .PDF format, here
.) During the probe, AAIB discovered that the operator did not have documentation to explain how to decode the FDR. When AAIB went to Cessna, the OEM referred investigators to the FDR supplier. Explained AAIB:
The organisation most likely to possess the information and expertise required to generate a suitable FDR decode document is the organisation that designed the FDR installation. In this case, the FDR installation was ‘as delivered’ by the aircraft manufacturer and formed part of the aircraft’s type certification. However, the aircraft manufacturer did not have any controlled documentation that provided the necessary detail. The aircraft manufacturer referred to the avionic system equipment manufacturer who was able to provide a controlled document with sufficient detail for the purposes of this investigation. However, this document is proprietary to the equipment manufacturer and was not shared with the aircraft operator, which was therefore unable to fulfill its obligations under Regulation (EC) 859/2008 to keep such a document.
AAIB noted two other recent investigations, one involving a Citation X and another involving a Gulfstream G150, that encountered "FDR documentation issues." AAIB confirmed with EASA that Part 21A.61, "Instructions for Continued Airworthiness," does apply to FDR decoding documentation, even though the rule doesn't explicitly say that. As a result, AAIB recommends that both EASA and FAA review its regulations to ensure that FDR ICA requirements are clearly spelled out for type certificate and supplemental type certificate holders, and that any necessary guidance is issued to clarify the rules.
Meanwhile, AAIB noted that Cessna has developed controlled ICA documents for its Sovereign and Citation X FDRs, and is distributing them, "at no charge," to any operator that wants them, as well as to all new customers.