The FAA has begun work toward applying crash-resistant fuel system standards to all helicopters, its chief has told the National Transportation Safety Board.
In a Sept. 28 letter, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart that he has tasked the agency’s Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee with acting on the safety board’s call for broader application of those standards. (Any changes would be subject to normal rulemaking and public-comment procedures, which can take years.)
The NTSB on July 23 recommended that the FAA require all newly manufactured rotorcraft to comply with tougher fuel-system standards adopted in 1994. Those standards (contained in Federal Aviation Regulations 27.952 for Normal category rotorcraft and 29.952 for Transport category ones) only applied to aircraft type certificated before October 1994.
Of more than 5,600 helicopters registered in the U.S. today, the safety board said only about 15% comply with the 1994 standards. The investigation that triggered the recommendation was of an Air Evac Lifeteam Bell Helicopter 206L1+ crash in which the pilot survived but a flight nurse and paramedic died of injuries including burns from a post-crash fire.