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The ATSB's preliminary examination of recorders from the fatal Metroliner accident has found good data on the aircraft flight data recorder but not on the cockpit voice recorder.

The two recorders were located in the aircraft wreckage on the afternoon following the accident and carried to the ATSB Canberra laboratories, arriving at 7 pm on Monday. Both recorders were heat affected from the post-accident fire.

Useful data of reasonably good quality has been retrieved from the flight data recorder (FDR) and detailed verification and analysis of that information has commenced. The FDR contained a little over 100 hours of recorded aircraft operation.

Unfortunately, no useful information about the accident flight appears to have been recorded on the cockpit voice recorder (CVR). Preliminary analysis of the 30 minute CVR tape indicates that it contains a mixture of electrical pulses and fragments of conversations, some identified from previous flights. The CVR tape is subject to ongoing investigation.

While the lack of CVR information to help the investigation is very disappointing, the FDR data includes a number of flight parameters* and will be of major assistance.

Other ATSB investigators continue to work at the accident site near Lockhart River, interview relevant personnel, review documents and records, and plan lines of inquiry.

The ATSB expects to release available and verified factual information, including from the FDR, in a Preliminary Factual Air Safety Investigation Report, by early June 2005.

The ATSB will not be releasing detailed data from the FDR until the complex and painstaking process of verification and analysis has been completed. This may take a number of months and speculation in the meantime should therefore be avoided.

*FDR parameters for VH-TFU include:

  • Elapsed Time Counter
  • Pressure Altitude
  • Indicated Airspeed
  • Magnetic Heading
  • Flap Position
  • Roll Attitude
  • Stabiliser Position
  • Acceleration: Longitudinal Axis
  • Acceleration: Vertical Axis
  • Left Propeller (% RPM)
  • Left Engine Torque (%)
  • Right Propeller (% RPM)
  • Right Engine Torque (%)
  • VHF radio microphone keying
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Last update 01 April 2011