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FDM/FOQA Regulations

This page provides a summary of regulations pertaining to flight data analysis. For specific information and the latest amendments and regulatory initiatives, please consult your Aviation Authority.

There were a few countries (France, India and others) where some form of FDM was mandated in the 1990s, however most of the earlier airlines to use FDM were the large flag carriers who implemented their systems as a part of their individual efforts to improve air safety.

Toward the end of the 1990s, a resolution was passed at ICAO to introduce a requirement on all member states. As a result of this, from 2005 onwards there has been a significant adoption of FDM as a mandatory requirement in most countries of the world, with the notable exception of the USA where FOQA has been introduced as one of a number of voluntary safety initiatives.

The following extracts are 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.

This section is currently under review, and may alter significantly to place emphasis upon the state to operate a Safety Management System as well as the aircraft operator.

The FAA regulations for FOQA are complex and written in legal terms, however this Examinators guide is a far more readable document and recommended reading.

The FAA approach is quite prescriptive, and some operators may wish to implement FOQA in a way that better suits their organisation without adopting the I&O plan required by the FAA, in which case they can operate their voluntary process without adopting all these regulations.

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. The core part of the regulation can be read here

You can also find the complete rule and links to view the rulemaking process and comments here. Interestingly, the FAA state in the preamble to the Final Rule that "...it is anticipated that FOQA will be implemented on an industry wide basis in the U.S. within the next twenty years".

The UK CAA document on FDM, CAP739, is a good foundation document and is used by inspectors in the UK. This has subsequently been used as the basis for the JAA and other advisory material.

For normal humans, EU legislation is difficult to penetrate. The EASA web site even states that “EASA is not the competent authority to interpret EU Law” so what hope is there for the rest of us? Please treat this guide as just that; a guide and not authoritative statements. With that warning in place, let us try to guide you through the maze.

Regulatory Structure

There are two guides to the layout of the regulations. The clearest top level diagram is at


And once you have that in mind, the more fragmented but detailed sub-diagrams are available at


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

Disappointingly, 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

Another layer down in the process, in Annex to ED Decision 2012-017-R, we find the Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) and Guidance Material (GM) to Part – ORO. This is where all the useful information about FDM can be found.

Here is the web site link:

http://www.easa.europa.eu/agency-measures/docs/agency-decisions/2013/2013-019-R/04 Part-ORO (AMC-GM)_Amdt2-Supplementary document to ED Decision 2013-019-R.pdf

You will find lots of helpful material about how to set up and operate your processes, and the elements that your FDM system should have.

Right at the end of this section is GM2 ORO.AOC.130 which brings us full circle by stating that: “Additional guidance material for the establishment of flight data monitoring can be found in UK Civil Aviation Authority CAP 739 (Flight Data Monitoring)”.

Amendment to Cover Regulation

There has been an amendment to the Cover Regulation introduced by Commission Regulation (EU) 800/2013. This amended some items relating to retention of FDR data.

The opportunity to work with FDS has been a pleasure. Flight Data Services' knowledge and understanding of the safety issues I face in our airline, and how the FOQA program should work, has been refreshing.

Ken Ashby
Director of Safety
Mountain Air Cargo, USA

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