ARFF (Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting)

Fire crews clean up hazardous materials from plane at San Diego airport

ARFF Working Group - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 08:10

Allison Horn

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – A Spirit Airlines flight leaving San Diego’s airport was stopped on the runway Thursday when the plane had a hydraulic fluid leak at Lindbergh Field.

The incident happened just after 9 a.m., according to the San Diego Fire Department. No smoke made its way into the cabin and no fire was reported. Crews towed the aircraft back to its terminal.

No injuries were reported.

Spirit Airlines spokesman Stephen Schuler issued a statement just after noon which reads, “Spirit Airlines flight 359 from San Diego to Las Vegas returned to the gate following a reported mechanical issue. The captain of another aircraft in line for takeoff reported smoke from the rear landing gear and fire officials responded accordingly. The aircraft was towed to the gate, where our mechanics and FAA inspectors discovered it was nothing more than condensation. The plane is scheduled to take off shortly.  We apologize for any inconvenience to our guests.”

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Chute Failure Cited In Fatal Crash

ARFF Working Group - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 08:08

Two men who died in the crash of a Czech-built light-sport aircraft in Rhoadesville, Virginia, in May 2016 had deployed a parachute recovery system, but it failed when the single front attachment point detached, according to a recent NTSB report. According to the NTSB, the pilot had recently purchased the Jihlavan KP 5 ASA (Skyleader 500), an all-metal, two-seat low-wing aircraft, with a chute supplied by Galaxy Rescue Systems, and was taking instruction in it to satisfy insurance requirements. Radar data indicated that, during the flight, the airplane’s groundspeed decreased from 94 to 62 knots, consistent with airwork such as slow flight and stall practice. Subsequently, several witnesses saw the airplane descending nose-down with the parachute deployed and still attached, but with the canopy only partially inflated, before the airplane impacted terrain.

The owner likely activated the parachute due to inadvertent spin entry, according to the NTSB. The previous owner of the airplane told the safety board he had to be vigilant during stall practice because “the airplane always seemed to yaw abruptly to the right and into a spin, more so than any other airplane he had flown.” The NTSB said Galaxy Rescue Systems told them the accident was the first time one of the chutes had been deployed in flight. During certification, one test deployment was performed on the ground. The current design includes two front anchors instead of one. The accident airplane was about 50 pounds over its maximum takeoff weight at the time of the parachute deployment, the NTSB said. The NTSB completed its report in September, but it was just reported by the local Freelance Star in Fredericksburg, Virginia, this week.

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NTSB Releases Preliminary Report On Racing Star Ted Christopher’s Plane Crash

ARFF Working Group - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 08:07

The plane that crashed killing Connecticut racing legend Ted Christopher plunged nose down through 75-foot pine trees, according to a preliminary report that did not identify any mechanical problems.

In the report released this month, the National Safety Transportation Board says the cause of the Sept. 16 crash of the Mooney M20C into a heavily wooded area in North Branford is still under investigation. The NTSB is still in possession of the plane.

Christopher and the pilot, Charles Dundas, were traveling from Robertson Field Airport in Plainville to Westhampton Beach, N.Y., on Long Island, when the place crashed. The NTSB report said the plane “first struck 75-foot tall pine trees in a steep descending altitude before coming to rest up against trees in a nose down position on its right side.”

The chief state medical examiner said Thursday that the deaths were accidental and caused by blunt trauma. A toxicology report was turned over to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The report said the right wing of the plane separated during the crash and was found about 170 feet from the fuselage. A three-foot portion of the left wing was found wrapped around a tree 75 feet from the right wing. The fuselage was found intact, with the landing gear in the extended position and the wing flaps in a retracted position. The report doesn’t indicate why Dundas would have the landing gear down about halfway through the 60-mile flight.

The aircraft had plenty of fuel for the short flight and the engine was attached to its mounts and largely intact. There were no broken fuel lines or oil lines that could have caused the crashed. The three-blade propeller was still attached and largely intact, the report said.

There was no evidence of rotational score and two of the blades weren’t damaged. One of the blades was bent and the spinner was crushed on one side. The report doesn’t indicate if that damage was caused when the plane plunged straight down.

The two-page report also ruled out weather as a possible contributing factor as winds were only 3 mph at the time and visibility was more than 10 miles. The plane had been issued its airworthiness certificate in 1964. The report doesn’t indicate that any work had been done on it recently.

Dundas had an active pilot’s certificate and also was licensed as a flight instructor and as a mechanic. He had more than 31,300 total hours of flight experience. His last FAA conducted medical exam was Oct. 16, 2006, records show.

Dundas had flown earlier in the day from Westhampton to Plainville to get Christopher. The two men had flown together for more than 10 years and had taken that particular route many times.

The plane departed from Robertson at 12:30 p.m. after Dundas refueled it. Several witnesses near the crash site reported hearing a crashing sound in the trees around 1 p.m. One witness described the sound as “gravel being dumped out of a dump truck.”

Residents found the wreckage about an hour later and notified local police. The plane was found in the woods near West Street and Taylor Lane. Carrie Carignan and her fiancé said they hiked into the woods and were the ones who initially found the wreckage.

“The plane is literally straight up and down. They were saying maybe it hit a tree and literally went straight down — it was just horrific, ” Carignan said. “The nose is down and the wings and everything are just spread out through the woods. I really didn’t want to look at it too much.”

Christopher, who began his short-track racing career in 1983, was the all-time winningest driver at Stafford Motor Speedway and Thompson Speedway. He was also the third-winningest driver all-time on the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, where he won the 2008 series championship. He was also the 2001 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series National Champion.

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Today in History

ARFF Working Group - Fri, 11/03/2017 - 08:05

67 Years ago today: On 3 November 1950 an Air-India Lockheed Constellation struck Mont Blanc, killing all 48 occupants.

Date: Friday 3 November 1950 Time: 09:43 Type: Lockheed L-749 Constellation Operator: Air-India Registration: VT-CQP C/n / msn: 2506 First flight: 1948 Crew: Fatalities: 8 / Occupants: 8 Passengers: Fatalities: 40 / Occupants: 40 Total: Fatalities: 48 / Occupants: 48 Airplane damage: Destroyed Airplane fate: Written off (damaged beyond repair) Location: Mont Blanc (   France) Crash site elevation: 4572 m (15000 feet) amsl Phase: En route (ENR) Nature: International Scheduled Passenger Departure airport: Cairo (unknown airport), Egypt Destination airport: Genève-Cointrin Airport (GVA/LSGG), Switzerland Flightnumber: 245

Air-India flight 245 departed Bombay on a flight to London with several intermediate stops. While descending towards Geneva, the airplane flew into the side of Mont Blanc at an elevation of 15.000 feet.
The wreckage was located November 5.

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Ex-Sikorsky Exec Pushed WW II Fighter Beyond Its Limits In Crash That Killed Him

ARFF Working Group - Thu, 11/02/2017 - 08:30

Christine Negroni 

The former president of Sikorsky, Jeffrey Pino, appears to have mishandled his WW II-era fighter plane by doing acrobatics, leading to a fatal crash in February 2016. The details are included in the factual report released by the National Transportation Safety Board as part of its investigation into the accident.

Pino, 61, who served as the president of the Connecticut-based helicopter company for six years until retiring in 2012, was flying with a fellow pilot and friend Nick Tramontano, in the restored P-51, dubbed “Big Beautiful Doll,” near Maricopa, Arizona. 

Witnesses said they saw the aircraft do a loop and then descend nose down.

Richard Terry Brown, a private pilot in Arizona, said he saw the plane performing an acrobatic maneuver he described as a “regular loop.” The airplane never came out of the turn. Brown was one of three men who gave similar accounts of the P-51’s last minutes flying.

The NTSB’s analysis of airport surveillance radar, suggests in the minutes before the crash, the airplane climbed for 14 seconds at a rate of speed as high as 8,000 feet per minute.

In the flight handbook for the single engine 51D, which was written for the Air Force pilots who would fly the airplane and is part of the NTSB report, pilots are specifically warned not to do the kind of abrupt pull up required for loops, with more than 25 gallons of fuel or about 150 pounds in the fuselage tank. This creates a “tail heavy” condition, the handbook says, that could “cause a reversal of control stick forces.”

In Pino’s airplane, the tank had been replaced by a second seat which was occupied by Tramontano, who weighed considerably more than 150 pounds. In addition to the restriction on abrupt pull ups, acrobatics are prohibited with any weight in the tank.

It looks like a “terrible, a gross disregard, a flagrant disregard of the flight handbook,” I was told by an experienced pilot who read through the report and the P-51 handbook before talking to me. He asked that I not identify him by name.

While Pino was an experienced helicopter pilot with 6,700 hours of flight time in both helicopters and fixed wing aircraft, he was reportedly new to the P-51, having purchased the plane two years earlier. The 73 year old Tramontano, had 26,000 hours in his log book.

The report says the plane belonged to and was operated by Pino, however, each of the tandem seats had working flight controls. A spokesman for the NTSB said on Monday, “it’s not possible for us to definitely determine who was manipulating the controls.”

The factual report suggests that the handling of the airplane will probably be cited as a factor leading to the crash when the final report is released sometime in the next two months.

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TSB to release report on deadly cargo aircraft crash near Vancouver

ARFF Working Group - Thu, 11/02/2017 - 08:27

The Canadian Press

VANCOUVER – The Transportation Safety Board of Canada will be releasing a report today on a cargo aircraft crash near Vancouver that killed two pilots.

The Swearingen operated by Carson Air crashed on April 13, 2015, in the mountains north of Vancouver en route to Prince George, B.C.

The BC Coroners Service had said toxicology tests found pilot Robert Brandt had a blood-alcohol level of 0.24 per cent, or three times the legal limit for driving.

Brandt, 34, was captain of the twin-engine plane when it crashed, also killing 32-year-old first officer Kevin Wang, who did not have any drugs or alcohol in his system.

The TSB had said following the crash that the crew did not declare an emergency before the aircraft dropped from 2,400 metres to 900 metres altitude in less than 20 seconds.

Kathy Fox, chair of the TSB, is holding a news conference in Vancouver this morning to discuss the findings of the investigation into the crash.

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F-16 Crash Caused By Bad Maintenance

ARFF Working Group - Thu, 11/02/2017 - 08:26

By Geoff Rapoport

The F-16C that crashed on April 5, 2017, shortly after departure from Joint Base Andrews, was brought down by faulty reassembly of the main engine control (MEC) unit during overhaul, according to the Air Force Accident Investigation Board assigned to the mishap. The absence of a retaining ring and associated anti-rotation pin led to malfunction of a pilot valve, which caused a massive excess of fuel to be delivered to the engine. The excess fuel first manifested as uncommanded acceleration, but rapidly progressed to engine overspeed and “a severe in-flight engine fire that extended 20 to 30 feet aft of the aircraft,” according to the Air Force. No one was killed in the accident. The pilot ejected at 2000 feet after pointing the aircraft toward a wooded area 4 miles southwest of the departure airport.

This was the first flight for the single-engine fighter following installation of the overhauled MEC, which was conducted at the Air Force 552d Commodities Maintenance Squadron, Oklahoma City. During disassembly of the MEC, Air Force forensic specialists found two pieces missing, which led to the failure, along with an extra backing ring found lodged against a sealing gasket. An O-ring made of a material other than the one specified was also found in the MEC. The extra part and incorrect O-ring did not contribute to the accident, but were further evidence of a lack of parts control in the overhaul shop, according to the board. Air Force Col. David Cochran, who was the president of the Accident Investigation Board, wrote, “It is critically important to ensure that all small washers, shims, pins, clips, and retaining rings are accounted for during the MEC overhaul process, in accordance with the applicable technical order guidance. Omitting or improperly installing any of these items, as stated in the technical order, did result in failure of the MEC and aircraft loss.”

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Today in History

ARFF Working Group - Thu, 11/02/2017 - 08:24

29 Years ago today: On 2 November 1988 a LOT Antonov 24 made a forced landing follwing engine problems near Rzeszow, killing 1 out of 29 occupants.

Date: Wednesday 2 November 1988 Type: Antonov 24B Operator: LOT Polskie Linie Lotnicze Registration: SP-LTD C/n / msn: 67302209 First flight: 1966 Engines:Ivchenko AI-24 Crew: Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 4 Passengers: Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 25 Total: Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 29 Airplane damage: Damaged beyond repair Location: near Rzeszów (   Poland) Phase: Approach (APR) Nature: Domestic Scheduled Passenger Departure airport: Warszawa-Okecie Airport (WAW/EPWA), Poland Destination airport: Rzeszów Airport (RZE/EPRZ), Poland Flightnumber: 703

Engine failure forced the crew to make an emergency landing on a field. The aircraft struck a ditch and caught fire.

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Today is Wednesday the 1st of November, 2017

ARFF Working Group - Wed, 11/01/2017 - 09:55

We start the new month with the following stories…

Be safe out there!


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Pilot dies in Tuesday morning plane crash near airport

ARFF Working Group - Wed, 11/01/2017 - 09:53

by Jenny Clore

A Rhode Island man died at the controls of his airplane this morning near Columbus Regional Airport.

The N.C. Highway Patrol said George Howard Charteress III, flying a single-engine Beechcraft, left a Florida airport shortly before 8 a.m. heading for Rhode Island with one passenger, Richard Shawn.

Officials said Charteress was heading in to land when the plane lost power and crashed 400 yards short of the runway, about 20 yards short of a field near the end of the runway.

Shawn, 58, also of Rhode Island, suffered minor injuries. He called 911 after the plane crashed, and rescuers used his GPS coordinates to find the crash site, which was not visible from the airport or nearby Pleasant Plains Church Road. Shawn was outside the aircraft when the first rescuers arrived, and walked out of the thickly vegetated area to board an ambulance.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.

The Columbus airport is a popular stop for many private pilots due to lower fuel prices here than at many larger airfields.

Brunswick Fire, Whiteville Rescue, Whiteville Heavy Rescue, the Highway Patrol and the sheriff’s office responded to the crash.

11:30 a.m. report

The pilot of a small single engine airplane died in a crash just west of the runway at Columbus County Airport at about 10:00 a.m. Tuesday morning. A passenger in the plane survived and was able to walk out of the wooded area where the plane crashed. He was taken to Columbus Regional Healthcare for minor injuries by Whiteville Rescue.

Sammy Jacobs, a salvage yard operator, heard the radio call and offered to guide several of his workers to the scene. The workers were volunteers of Brunswick Fire Department. Jacobs heard the passenger of the plane calling for help and made his way through a densely wooded area to the scene. He returned to Pleasant Plains Church Road and flagged down first responders.
The pilot is from out of state. He will be identified pending notification of kin.

Pilot dies in Tuesday morning plane crash near airport

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Ukraine International Airlines B-737 Hits Catering Truck in Kiev

ARFF Working Group - Wed, 11/01/2017 - 09:52
Date: 31-OCT-2017 Time: Type: Boeing 737-8AS (WL) Owner/operator: Ukraine International Airlines Registration: UR-PSV C/n / msn: 35017/3052 Fatalities: Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: Other fatalities: 0 Airplane damage: Minor Location: Kiev-Borispol Airport (KBP/UKBB) –    Ukraine Phase: Taxi Nature: Domestic Scheduled Passenger Departure airport: Kiev-Borispol Airport (KBP/UKBB) Destination airport: Kharkov Airport (HRK/UKHH)

Right wing hit a truck when taxiing from stand. Leading edge slat damaged. Passengers taken to destination on UR-PST.

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Akron sues flight company and co-pilots over cleanup from 2015 plane crash

ARFF Working Group - Wed, 11/01/2017 - 09:50

AKRON, Ohio – The City of Akron is suing a private jet company and the estates of two now-deceased pilots for the cleanup associated with a plane crash in 2015 that killed 9 people and destroyed an apartment building.

The city sued the estates of co-pilots Oscar Andres Chavez and Renato Marchese, who died in the crash, as well as the company that owned the plane and the company that leased the plane.

It is asking for $18,283.56 for cleanup, alleging that the defendants “failed to pay the necessary and reasonable, additional or extraordinary costs Plaintiff incurred in investigating, mitigating, minimizing, removing or abating the unauthorized spill, release, or discharge or contamination.”

Chavez and Marchese both died when the plane crashed into an Akron apartment building on Nov. 10, 2015. Seven passengers also died.

The National Transportation Safety Board said a “litany of failures” led to the crash.

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Korea holds drill on simulated plane crash at airport

ARFF Working Group - Wed, 11/01/2017 - 09:49

By Yonhap

Hundreds of South Korean firefighters, emergency crews and other officials on Wednesday staged a simulated fire on a plane in the latest drill to enhance readiness in case of an airport accident.

In the simulated drill, a plane — which lost communication with air traffic controllers — collided with a small aircraft on the runway as it was landing at Gimpo International Airport in western Seoul amid thunder and lightning.

The officials scrambled to the scene to rescue passengers and put out the burning planes using fire engines with a helicopter flying overhead.

There have been no major crashes between airplanes in South Korean airports, according to the transport ministry. (Yonhap)

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Today in History

ARFF Working Group - Wed, 11/01/2017 - 09:48

68 Years ago today: On 1 November 1949 an Eastern Airlines Douglas C-54 collided with a Bolivian Air Force P-38 on approach to Washington-National, killing all 55 occupants.

Date: Tuesday 1 November 1949 Time: 11:46 Type: Douglas C-54B-10-DO (DC-4) Operator: Eastern Air Lines Registration: N88727 C/n / msn: 18365 First flight: 1944 Total airframe hrs: 12161 Crew: Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 4 Passengers: Fatalities: 51 / Occupants: 51 Total: Fatalities: 55 / Occupants: 55 Airplane damage: Damaged beyond repair Location: 0,8 km (0.5 mls) SW of Washington-National Airport, DC (DCA) (   United States of America) Phase: Approach (APR) Nature: Domestic Scheduled Passenger Departure airport: New York-La Guardia Airport, NY (LGA/KLGA), United States of America Destination airport: Washington-National Airport, DC (DCA/KDCA), United States of America Flightnumber: EA537

At 11:37 A Bolivian Air Force Lockheed P-38 Lightning fighter (NX26927) took off from runway 03 at Washington-National Airport, DC (DCA). The pilot was carrying out an acceptance test flight. Because of erratic operation of the right hand engine, the pilot decided to land as soon as possible.
When abeam runway 36 the pilot transmitted, “Washington Tower, this is Bolivian P-38. I got engine trouble request landing instructions.” Waiting for instructions he circled the field. When he was between Bolling Field and the National Airport and at about 3,500 feet altitude, the tower asked, “Bolivian P-38, you were asking landing instructions?” The Bolivian pilot answered, “Yes, I have engine trouble. I am in a hurry,” and that the tower at that time responded, “Bolivian P-38 cleared to land number two on runway 3.”
Number one on the approach was Eastern Air Lines flight 537, a Douglas C-54. Because the P-38 was descending above and behind the C-54, it was then told to enter the left traffic pattern and to land behind the C-54. This message was never confirmed, nor complied with. The tower then switched to the Eastern aircraft and told it to turn left. When turning left, half a mile short of the runway at an altitude of 300 feet, both aircraft collided and crashed. The pilot of the P-38 survived with serious injuries.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: “The execution of a straight-in final approach by the P-38 pilot without obtaining proper clearance to land and without exercising necessary vigilance.”

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Today is Tuesday the 31st of October, 2017 – Happy Halloween!

ARFF Working Group - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 08:56

Here are the stories for today…

Be safe out there, and take it easy on stealing the kids candy tonight!


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Airplane crash lands at Atlanta Motorsports Park

ARFF Working Group - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 08:40

By: Deidra Dukes

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – An airplane made a crash landing at Atlanta Motorsports Park in Dawsonville, according to the FAA. The aircraft is a Piper P32R-300. 

“Experienced some mechanical issues in flight. Stated that the cockpit filled up with smoke and so basically he was looking for a place to land,” said Deputy Chief Tim Satterfield, Dawson County Emergency Services.

The crash occurred around 8:30 a.m. Monday morning. The aircraft departed from Lee Gilmer Memorial Airport in Gainesville, Georgia and was going to the Gary/Chicago International Airport in Gary, Indiana.

“He saw this area with a lot of asphalt and he tried to put it down there and had a crash landing,” the deputy chief said.

The pilot was the only person on board, and the plane was having a mechanical issue that led to the emergency landing, according to Satterfield.

“The pilot did self-extricate himself we transported him via helicopter to Northeast Georgia Medical Center,” said Satterfield. 

The pilot was flown to the hospital in serious but stable condition, according to officials.

Satterfield said the plane came to rest on the Go-Kart track. No one on the ground was injured. Satterfield credits luck and pilot skill knowing the crash could’ve been a lot worse.

“Oh, yes! A lot worse especially with the rural area too. If he had gotten into the woods or a mountainous area, it could’ve been a lot worse,” said Satterfield.

The plane can hold up to seven passengers.

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Small plane crashes in vineyard west of Selma; no initial word on how many on board

ARFF Working Group - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 08:38


A small private plane crashed Monday in rural Fresno County.

The California Highway Patrol responded to the incident before 2:30 p.m. west of Selma on Cedar Avenue.

An ambulance was not requested, but Cal Fire was called out for a fuel leak.

A pilot was the only person on the plane when it lost power at an altitude of 4,000 feet. He was headed to the Selma airport. The plane overturned when it clipped vines as he tried to land the craft, a sheriff’s spokesman said.

The plane was a Vans RV-6, the FAA said

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ALPA Commends FAA’s Stance On Lithium Batteries

ARFF Working Group - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 08:36

Agency Has Called For Such Batteries To Be Banned From Checked Baggage

The Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA), the world’s largest non-governmental aviation safety organization, applauded the FAA’s recent proposal to prohibit lithium batteries installed in certain electronic equipment from checked baggage on passenger aircraft. The FAA issued its recommendations to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Dangerous Goods Panel after internal tests repeatedly demonstrated substantial fire concerns.

“ALPA has long called for international organizations to address the significant hazards associated with the safe transport of lithium batteries on passenger and cargo aircraft. We commend the FAA for their thoroughness in demonstrating the risks these batteries present when unmonitored and call on ICAO to implement these recommendations,” said Tim Canoll, ALPA president.

In addition, ALPA issued a letter to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao expressing concerns regarding the recent decision to replace the FAA as the lead U.S. representative on ICAO’s Dangerous Goods Panel, which is considering the proposed ban at their current meeting.

“It is inappropriate to have an agency that is not responsible for the regulatory oversight of aviation to lead the delegation that is making recommendations to improve the safety of that sector of transportation,” wrote Capt. Canoll.

As the FAA was continuing their charge of promoting aviation safety, Secretary Chao indicated that the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) would take over as the lead for U.S. negotiations on the regulation of dangerous goods at future ICAO meetings.

(Source: ALPA news release)


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ICAO considers checked baggage laptop ban over fire concern

ARFF Working Group - Tue, 10/31/2017 - 08:35

Aaron Karp

ICAO is considering amending its dangerous goods instructions to largely ban large personal electronic devices (PEDs) from checked baggage after US FAA’s Fire Safety Branch reported “troubling” results from tests conducted on potential fire risks to commercial aircraft from laptops in checked baggage.

Results of FAA’s testing, conducted over the summer and previously made public in an “Information for Operators” bulletin issued by the agency in July, were included in a report released during a meeting of ICAO’s Dangerous Goods Panel (DGP) that concluded Oct. 27 in Montreal.

The FAA test results have led to the drafting of language by DGP that would amend ICAO’s dangerous goods instructions to ban large PEDs from checked baggage.

Exceptions would include “operator approval for the unique passenger circumstances that may arise for the carriage of PEDs larger than a cell/smartphone in checked baggage” and the placement of large PEDs in checked baggage with “lithium battery(ies) … removed from the device and stowed in the cabin,” according to the DGP report.

Otherwise, there would be little leeway—FAA and DGP believe crafting detailed rules that would give individual passengers or airlines discretion could too easily lead to unnecessary fire risk. Also, an airline choosing to ban large PEDs from checked baggage could unknowingly carry them in passenger baggage cargo holds if bags originally checked with another airline are transferred on codeshare or interline flights.

“As such, requiring the large PEDs to be carried only in the cabin is the simplest, most effective and most efficient option for addressing this identified safety risk,” the DGP report stated.

The FAA tests were initiated following the “laptop ban” issued in March by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which for four months prohibited passengers flying nonstop to the US from 10 airports in the Middle East and Africa from carrying large PEDs aboard aircraft. This meant more laptops were being checked, and DGP realized there was little data available on the fire risks large PEDs in checked baggage posed. So FAA’s Fire Safety Branch agreed to conduct tests on fully charged laptop computers inside suitcases.

“The suitcases varied in construction and in the density and types of items inside, as well as the construction of the outer case,” the DGP report stated. “A heater was placed against a lithium ion cell in the battery of a laptop to force it into thermal runaway. For the first five tests, the suitcases were filled with clothes, shoes, etc., but no other currently permitted dangerous goods. In four of those tests, the fire was contained and eventually self-extinguished, and the suitcases were not breached. In one test … the resulting fire burned out of the suitcase and fully consumed it.”

Those test results did not raise significant alarm, but FAA also conducted a test “of this same scenario” in which “an eight-ounce aerosol can of dry shampoo [was] strapped to the laptop battery and added to the suitcase contents,” the DGP report explained, noting that “dry shampoo is currently permitted to be carried in checked baggage.”

The test including the shampoo “yielded the most troubling result,” the DGP report stated. “Fire was observed almost immediately after thermal runaway was initiated. The fire rapidly grew, and within 40 seconds, the aerosol can of shampoo exploded with the resulting fire rapidly consuming the bag and its contents. This test showed that, given the rapid progression of the fire, a Halon fire suppression system cannot dispense Halon quickly enough to reach a sufficient concentration to suppress the fire and prevent the explosion.”

FAA then conducted four additional tests in which the dry shampoo remained and other items were added to the suitcases, including nail polish remover, hand sanitizer and a bottle of rubbing alcohol. “Three of those tests resulted in the can or bottle containing the dangerous goods bursting, leading to a large fire,” the DGP report stated. “In only one test was the fire contained within the case.”

The DGP said the tests indicate “that large PEDs in checked baggage mixed with an aerosol can produce an explosion and fire that the aircraft cargo fire suppression system … may not be able to safely manage. Globally, there are aircraft in the commercial fleet that do not have the same level of cargo fire suppression in the cargo hold, which places passengers in greater jeopardy if a PED catches fire in checked baggage.”

The Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) praised the proposed ban on large PEDs in checked baggage. “ALPA has long called for international organizations to address the significant hazards associated with the safe transport of lithium batteries on passenger and cargo aircraft,” ALPA president Tim Canoll said in a statement. “We commend the FAA for their thoroughness in demonstrating the risks these batteries present when unmonitored and call on ICAO to implement these recommendations.”

Aaron Karp

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