Is there a procedure in place to request a copy of the audio recording of a specific ATC position over a specific time interval? How is the request made? What are the limitations of such a request?

For the purpose of this answer, consider that there would be a need for the audio from a controller, which may involve multiple frequencies as well as interphone communication with other controllers. As such, internet resources that provide recordings of specific frequencies would not be adequate.

  • $\begingroup$ Note for completeness: an FAA recording will capture everything that passed though the position, which means: Any RX transmission on any selected frequency, any TX transmission no matter which frequencies are selected (if any are), any incoming audio as well as any audio (intentional or background) captured by the controller's microphone while a landline was active, and any audio captured by either controller's microphone while the "brief button" was active. To my knowledge this will all be mixed down into a single audio channel with no metadata identifying the original source. $\endgroup$
    – randomhead
    Commented Jan 18, 2022 at 4:08

1 Answer 1


In the specific situation of a pilot who is the subject of an FAA investigation, the Pilot's Bill of Rights requires that air traffic data (which includes audio recordings) be provided to the pilot. They would be expected to make the request directly to the FAA. There is a procedure for this:

To ensure that relevant air traffic data you are seeking from a government contractor are obtained, you should provide the following information:

a. Your name and your airman certificate number;
b. other relevant information (aircraft heading, altitude, call sign, transponder code, etc.) that will help the contractor locate relevant data;
c. the name/location of the contractor facility that you believe has air traffic data;
d. the date and local time of day when such data relevant to the your flight operation were generated;
e. the name of the FAA inspector, investigator or other FAA official (e.g., an air traffic controller who advises you about a possible pilot deviation) who notified you that you are under investigation;
f. the airman's phone number or email

The individual should provide that information to the FAA by email to the following address: [email protected].

The instructions include a warning about timeliness:

Depending on the type of data, they will normally be stored from 5 to 45 days and then they are destroyed or discarded in the normal course of business

I don't have any information about the general case, though I imagine it depends on the facility and their workload.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ In "the general case" you make your request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Information on how these requests are handled can be found in FAA Order JO 7210.3X (Section 4.8) $\endgroup$
    – voretaq7
    Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 18:02

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