Do Flight Data Recorders (FDRs) and Cockpit Voice Recorders (CVRs), aka black boxes, have an in-service life span? Is it necessary to replace them over time?

If so, are there any regulations governing their maximum life?

Note: The suggested duplicate asks specificly about post-crash lift time. This question is about in-service lifetime.

After a crash, does the information stored on flight recorders have expiration dates?

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    $\begingroup$ When asking about regulations you need to specify a jurisdiction such as FAA, EASA or other. $\endgroup$ Feb 5 '18 at 9:24
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    $\begingroup$ Black boxes?... Recorders is more accurate. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Feb 5 '18 at 10:15
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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of Do flight recorders have expiration dates? $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Feb 5 '18 at 15:30
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think it's quite a duplicate, although the titles are the same. The linked question is about how long the data last after a crash, not about maintenance schedules. $\endgroup$
    – Dan Hulme
    Feb 5 '18 at 16:04
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I am more interested in the maintenance schedules. $\endgroup$
    – Emira
    Feb 6 '18 at 1:25

The FAA is making an effort to phase out magnetic tape style recorders as noted in the this AC

1.7 Obsolete Technology. We are phasing out magnetic tapes through mandates and voluntary efforts and replacing them with modern solid-state recorders. These new recorders not only enhance safety but also benefit you directly, as they avoid the high costs and technical problems of maintaining outdated recorders. Modern recorders do not require the hourly replacement of tapes and calendar weighing of thermal capsules. Also, existing tape recorders no longer meet the most recent FAA TSO minimum performance standards.

However they clearly state the replacement is voluntary. The wording here also implies that the tapes are replaced on an hourly cycle and the thermal capsules are checked.

This AC covers quite a bit about the design and function of the FDR and CVR. I would take a look at CHAPTER 3. CONTINUED AIRWORTHINESS REQUIREMENTS starting on page 12. It outlines some of the things old FDR/CVR's may need to comply with to remain airworthy.

Im sure there are also specific limitations on specific units out there like any other component in aviation that may have caused them to be removed from service or lose their certification somehow.


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