A top NTSB official will open Oct. 27’s Rotorcraft Certification Summit with a briefing on the safety board’s call for the FAA to require all newly built helicopters to have crash-resistant fuel systems regardless of when their type certificate was issued.
The director of the NTSB’s Office of Aviation Safety, John DeLisi, will give the morning keynote presentation from 8:10 to 9 a.m. to kick off the one-day executive summit at the Sheraton Hotel DFW Airport in Irving, Texas.
The FAA in 1994 adopted new standards for crash-resistant fuel systems (Federal Aviation Regulations 27.952 and 29.952), but only made them applicable to helicopters type certificated after Oct. 1994. In a recent investigation, the NTSB found that more than 5,600 helicopters built after 1994 are registered in the U.S., but only about 15% comply with the crash-resistant fuel system standards.
"The NTSB is concerned that, 20 years after needed safety improvement in the design of helicopters was mandated, such a small percentage of U.S.-registered helicopters currently flying meet the requirement for these systems," the safety board said while calling on the FAA to make the change.
At the Rotorcraft Certification Summit, DeLisi also will discuss the benefits of image recorders to recent accident investigations, including last October’s crash of the SpaceShipTwo space-transport prototype and the March 2013 crash of an Alaska Department of Public Safety Eurocopter AS350.
The NTSB finished its SpaceShipTwo probe in less than nine months—nearly record time. "One big reason," DeLisi said, "was the availability of definitive evidence from an onboard cockpit image recorder."
In addition, DeLisi will provide an update on the NTSB’s 2015 Most Wanted List item of enhancing public helicopter safety.