American Airlines is accused of violating protocol pertaining to the handling of aircraft flight recorders. Following any incident involving aircraft, airlines are required to submit the cockpit voice recorder and the digital flight data recorder immediately to the National Transportation Safety Board’s lab without accessing or changing the recorded information.
When one of American Airlines aircraft ran off the end of the runway during snowy conditions at Jackson Hole Airport on December 29, the recorders were flown to Tulsa, where American Airlines’ technicians downloaded information from the digital flight data recorder. The cockpit voice recorder and the digital flight data recorder arrived at the NTSB laboratory on December 30.
“Although a thorough examination by our investigators determined that no information from (the recorder) was missing or altered in any way, the breach of protocol by American Airlines personnel violates (the NTSB’s) standards of conduct for any organization granted party status in an NTSB investigation,” says NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman, in a statement. “Because maintaining and enforcing strict investigative protocols and procedures is vital to the integrity of our investigative processes, we have revoked the party status of American Airlines and excused them from further participation in this incident investigation.”
American Airlines spokeswoman Mary Frances Fagan says the airline downloaded information from the flight recorder “as part of its normal safety investigation of the incident”.