49 U.S. Code § 1154 - Discovery and use of cockpit and surface vehicle recordings and transcripts

(a) Transcripts and Recordings.—
(1) Except as provided by this subsection, a party in a judicial proceeding may not use discovery to obtain—
(A) any part of a cockpit or surface vehicle recorder transcript that the National Transportation Safety Board has not made available to the public under section 1114 (c) or 1114 (d) of this title; and
(B) a cockpit or surface vehicle recorder recording.
(2)
(A) Except as provided in paragraph (4)(A) of this subsection, a court may allow discovery by a party of a cockpit or surface vehicle recorder transcript if, after an in camera review of the transcript, the court decides that—
(i) the part of the transcript made available to the public under section 1114 (c) or 1114 (d) of this title does not provide the party with sufficient information for the party to receive a fair trial; and
(ii) discovery of additional parts of the transcript is necessary to provide the party with sufficient information for the party to receive a fair trial.
(B) A court may allow discovery, or require production for an in camera review, of a cockpit or surface vehicle recorder transcript that the Board has not made available under section 1114 (c) or 1114 (d) of this title only if the cockpit or surface vehicle recorder recording is not available.
(3) Except as provided in paragraph (4)(A) of this subsection, a court may allow discovery by a party of a cockpit or surface vehicle recorder recording if, after an in camera review of the recording, the court decides that—
(A) the parts of the transcript made available to the public under section 1114 (c) or 1114 (d) of this title and to the party through discovery under paragraph (2) of this subsection do not provide the party with sufficient information for the party to receive a fair trial; and
(B) discovery of the cockpit or surface vehicle recorder recording is necessary to provide the party with sufficient information for the party to receive a fair trial.
(4)
(A) When a court allows discovery in a judicial proceeding of a part of a cockpit or surface vehicle recorder transcript not made available to the public under section 1114 (c) or 1114 (d) of this title or a cockpit or surface vehicle recorder recording, the court shall issue a protective order—
(i) to limit the use of the part of the transcript or the recording to the judicial proceeding; and
(ii) to prohibit dissemination of the part of the transcript or the recording to any person that does not need access to the part of the transcript or the recording for the proceeding.
(B) A court may allow a part of a cockpit or surface vehicle recorder transcript not made available to the public under section 1114 (c) or 1114 (d) of this title or a cockpit or surface vehicle recorder recording to be admitted into evidence in a judicial proceeding, only if the court places the part of the transcript or the recording under seal to prevent the use of the part of the transcript or the recording for purposes other than for the proceeding.
(5) This subsection does not prevent the Board from referring at any time to cockpit or surface vehicle recorder information in making safety recommendations.
(6) In this subsection:
(A) Recorder.— The term “recorder” means a voice or video recorder.
(B) Transcript.— The term “transcript” includes any written depiction of visual information obtained from a video recorder.
(b) Reports.— No part of a report of the Board, related to an accident or an investigation of an accident, may be admitted into evidence or used in a civil action for damages resulting from a matter mentioned in the report.

Source

(Pub. L. 103–272, § 1(d),July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 757; Pub. L. 106–424, § 5(c)(1),Nov. 1, 2000, 114 Stat. 1885.)

Historical and Revision Notes
Revised Section Source (U.S. Code) Source (Statutes at Large)
1154(a) 49 App.:1905(c)(3), (d). Jan. 3, 1975, Pub. L. 93–633, 88 Stat. 2156, § 306(c)(3), (d); added Oct. 14, 1982, Pub. L. 97–309, § 2, 96 Stat. 1453; restated Nov. 28, 1990, Pub. L. 101–641, § 4, 104 Stat. 4655.
1154(b) 49 App.:1441(e). Aug. 23, 1958, Pub. L. 85–726, § 701(e), 72 Stat. 781.
49 App.:1655(d) (1st sentence). Oct. 15, 1966, Pub. L. 89–670, § 6(d) (1st sentence), 80 Stat. 938.
49 App.:1903(a)(1)(A), (c). Jan. 3, 1975, Pub. L. 93–633, § 304(a)(1)(A), (c), 88 Stat. 2168, 2171.

In subsection (a), the word “transcript” is substituted for “transcriptions” for clarity.
In subsection (a)(1)(A), the words “that the National Transportation Safety Board has not made available to the public” are substituted for “other than such portions made available to the public by the Board” for clarity.
In subsection (a)(2)(B), the words “prepared by or under the direction of the Board” are omitted as unnecessary and for consistency with the source provisions restated in this subsection.
In subsection (b), the words “civil action” are substituted for “suit or action” in 49 App.:1441(e) and 1903(c) for consistency with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (28 App. U.S.C.).
Amendments

2000—Pub. L. 106–424, § 5(c)(1)(A), substituted “and surface vehicle recordings and transcripts” for “voice and other material” in section catchline.
Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 106–424, § 5(c)(1)(B), substituted “cockpit or surface vehicle recorder” for “cockpit voice recorder” wherever appearing.
Pub. L. 106–424, § 5(c)(1)(C), substituted “section 1114 (c) or 1114 (d)” for “section 1114 (c)” wherever appearing.
Subsec. (a)(6). Pub. L. 106–424, § 5(c)(1)(D), which directed the amendment of this section by adding par. (6) at the end, was executed by adding par. (6) at the end of subsec. (a) to reflect the probable intent of Congress.

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49 USCDescription of ChangeSession YearPublic LawStatutes at Large

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49 CFR - Transportation

49 CFR Part 801 - PUBLIC AVAILABILITY OF INFORMATION

49 CFR Part 821 - RULES OF PRACTICE IN AIR SAFETY PROCEEDINGS

49 CFR Part 830 - NOTIFICATION AND REPORTING OF AIRCRAFT ACCIDENTS OR INCIDENTS AND OVERDUE AIRCRAFT, AND PRESERVATION OF AIRCRAFT WRECKAGE, MAIL, CARGO, AND RECORDS

 

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