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The list below provides you with a summary of principles, guidelines and regulations pertaining to flight data monitoring. Please consult the Authority concerned for specific information and the latest amendments and regulatory initiatives.

ICAO - International Civil Aviation Organisation

The following are extracts from Amendment 26 to ICAO Annex 6 - Operation of Aircraft:

3.6.2 : Recommendation - From 1 January 2002, an operator of an aeroplane of a maximum certificated take-off weight in excess of 20,000kg should establish and maintain a flight data analysis programme as part of its accident prevention and flight safety programme.

3.6.3 : From 1 January 2005, an operator of an aeroplane of maximum certificated take-off weight in excess of 27,000kg shall establish and maintain a flight data analysis progrmme as part of its accident prevention and flight safety programme.

3.6.4 : A flight data analysis programme shall be non-punitive and contain adequate safeguards to protect the source(s) of the data.

IOSA - IATA Operational Safety Audit

The following are extracts from IOSA Standards Manual:

ORG 3.3.13 The Operator shall have a flight data analysis programme that is non-punitive and contains adequate safeguards to protect data sources. The programme shall include either:



a systematic download and analysis of electronically recorded aircraft flight data or

a systematic acquisition, correlation and analysis of flight information derived from a combination of some or all of the following sources:

a) aircraft FDR readouts;
b) confidential flight and cabin crew operational safety reports;
c) flight and cabin crew interviews;
d) quality assurance findings;
e) flight and cabin crew evaluation reports;
f) aircraft engineering and maintenance reports.

EASA - European Aviation Safety Agency

The following references shall guide you through the EASA publications on Flight Data Monitoring on Airplanes:

Regulatory Structure

Basic Regulation

The top level EU “Basic Regulation” is Regulation (EC) No 216/2008. This is very high level and contains statements such as the regulation will… “reflect the state of the art and the best practices in the field of air operations”. There is no direct mention of FDM.

Cover Regulation

Down a level to the “Cover Regulation” and there are two sections covering aircrew and operations. The aircrew regulation, Regulation (EU) No 1178/2011, was amended by Regulation (EU) No 290/2012, and has no reference to flight data.

The “Cover Regulation” relating to Air Operations is Regulation (EU) No 965/2012, which became applicable on 28/10/2012. Nevertheless, Member States have the flexibility to postpone the applicability of the rule by up to 2 years.

This Regulation has been termed the ‘Air OPS Regulation’, and is composed of the Cover Regulation (10 Articles) and five annexes. Of these, Annex III addresses the Organisation Requirements for Air Operations (Part-ORO).

This regulation defines FDM:
Definition 46: ‘flight data monitoring (FDM)’ means the proactive and non-punitive use of digital flight data from routine operations to improve aviation safety'
And, in Annex III the requirement is similar to the ICAO regulation:
ORO.AOC.130 Flight data monitoring — aeroplanes
(a) The operator shall establish and maintain a flight data monitoring system, which shall be integrated in its management system, for aeroplanes with a maximum certificated take-off mass of more than 27 000 kg.
(b) The flight data monitoring system shall be non-punitive and contain adequate safeguards to protect the source(s) of the data
So far, the ICAO recommendation for FDM on aircraft over 20 tonnes has been omitted from the EU regulation, and does not appear in the guidance material.

Acceptable Means of Compliance and Guidance Material

Detailed information about FDM:
Annex to ED Decision 2014-017-R, Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) and Guidance Material (GM) to Part – ORO:
How to setup and operate FDM related processes.
Elements of an FDM system.
Reference to addditional guidance material UK CAA CAP 739.

Flight Data Recorders

FDM is based either on sophisticated Flight Data Aquisition Units or (on smaller aircraft) or recording the aircraft built-in Flight Data Recorders (FDR) data stream using a Quick Access Recorder (QAR).

Requirements on Flight Data Recorders can be found in:

FAA - Federal Aviation Authorities (United States)

The FAA regulations for FOQA are complex and written in legal terms. Click here to read the examinators guide.

Flight operational Quality Assurance Program; Final Rule

Final Rule for Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) Programs. A new Subpart I was added to 14 CFR Part 13 which codifies enforcement protection for FOQA programs. This rule became effective November 30, 2001.

FOQA Aviation Rulemaking Committee

FOQA ARC Order. This order constitutes the charter for the flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC). The ARC is a government/industry forum to provide the FAA with advice on FAA FOQA policy. (Dated October 29, 2001)

FOQA Program Approval Procedures & Continued Program Monitoring

Joint Flight Standards Handbook Bulletin for Air Transportation (HBAT) and Air Worthiness (HBAW) that defies the FOQA program approval process and the roles of the POI and CHDO in monitoring continuing FOQA operations for Part 121 and 135 carriers. (Dated July 26, 2000)

FOQA Policy Statement

Official FAA policy statement on Flight Operational Quality Assurance (FOQA) Programs. (Dated December 2, 1998)

CAA - Civil Aviation Authority (United Kingdom)

The UK CAA document on FDM is a good foundation document and is used by inspectors in the UK.

The United Kingdom CAA supports the ICAO recommendations on FDM and is actively encouraging the adoption of Operational Flight Data Monitoring (OFDM) by all operators as an integrated part of a Safety Management System. The CAA also recommends the use of OFDM for operators of aircraft under 27,000kg and helicopters, as shown in the following extract from the CAA - prepared UK response to ICAO:

Comment on Future Development of Flight Data Analysis Programmes -

In the UK flight data analysis programmes are known as Operational Flight Data Monitoring (OFDM) programmes. Over the past thirty years the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority has been instrumental in the development of OFDM programmes and strongly encourage their implementation by UK operators. Such systems allow an airline to identify, quantify, assess and address operational risks. They should be used to:

Identify and quantify existing operational risks
Identify and quantify changing operational risks
Formally assess the risk to determine which are not acceptable
Where risks are not acceptable, put in place remedial activity
Measure the effectiveness of action and continue to monitor risks

This process sits well within a pro-active Safety Management System where it can provide assurance that safety levels are being met or improved.

These significant ICAO proposals mark the beginning of the wider adoption of these programmes throughout the industry and the United Kingdom would like to suggest the next steps in this process.


It is recommended that operators of commercial aircraft below 27,000kg MCTOW should also be encouraged to utilise a flight data analysis programme. This sector is where the most inexperienced commercial crews learn their trade. Monitoring programmes here will reap both direct operational safety benefits for the airlines and on-going benefits for the pilots throughout their careers.

ICAO Safety Mgmt Manual ICAO Safety Mgmt Manual
IATA Operational Safety Audit Standards Manual IOSA Standards Manual
CAA FOQA guide CAP 739 FDM guide
EU-OPS vs. ICAO Annex 6 compliance EU-OPS vs. ICAO Ann 6
FAA FOQA guide FAA regulations
Intl FDM survey International FDM survey
FDM at SWISS FDM at SWISS (german)

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