NTSB Safety Recommendations for In-Flight Fires

NTSB Urges Revised Checklist for Engine Fire Emergencies

Due to investigations on in-flight fires, there were various aviation safety recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board.

November 29, 2000, an American Airlines operated DC-9-82 was struck by lightning and had an in-flight fire that forced an emergency landing and evacuation, leaving minor damages. August 8, 2000, an Air Tran Airways operated DC-9-32 had to emergency land after an in-flight fire started, resulting in minor injuries and smoke inhalation. September 17, 1999, a Delta Air Lines operated McDonnell Douglas MD-88 made an emergency landing and evacuation after an in-flight fire started, leading to minor damage. June 2, 1983, an Air Canada operated DC-9 made an emergency landing and evacuation due to an in-flight fire, detected by a passenger. The fire caused 23 passengers to become trapped in the aircraft to their deaths, and the airplane was completely destroyed.

  • Issue an advisory circular (AC) that describes the need for crewmembers to take immediate and aggressive action in response to signs of an in-flight fire. The AC should stress that fires often are hidden behind interior panels and therefore may require a crewmember to remove or otherwise gain access to the area behind interior panels in order to effectively apply to extinguish agents to the source of the fire.
  • Develop and require the implementation of procedures or airplane modifications that will provide the most effective means for crewmembers to gain access to areas behind interior panels for the purpose of applying the extinguishing agents to hidden fires. As part of this effort, the FAA should evaluate the feasibility of equipping interior panels of new and existing airplanes with ports, access panels, or some other means to apply extinguishing agent behind interior panels.
  • Require principal operations inspectors to ensure that the contents of the advisory circular (recommended in A-01-83) are incorporated into crewmember training programs.
  • Issue a flight standards handbook bulletin to principal operations inspectors to ensure that air carrier training programs explain the properties of Halon and emphasize that the potentially harmful effects on passengers and crew are negligible compared to the safety benefits achieved by fighting in-flight fires aggressively.
  • Amend 14 Code of Federal Regulations 121.417 to require participation in firefighting drills that involve actual or simulated fires during crewmember recurrent training and to require that those drills include realistic scenarios on recognizing potential signs of, locating, and fighting hidden fires.

To learn more about your legal rights, contact an aviation attorney today.