By James T. McKenna | October 17, 2017
Seventeen helicopter variants fully comply with the latest standards for crash-resistant fuel systems, the FAA said in a new notice.
The agency posted a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SW-17-31) Oct. 13 alerting owners and operators to the list of helicopters “that are fully compliant with the crash-resistant fuel system (CRFS) safety standards” of Federal Aviation Regulations Part 27.952 or 29.952.
Operating a non-compliant helicopter “is not an airworthiness concern that would warrant airworthiness directive,” the bulletin states. But operating a compliant one “may reduce the risk of post-crash fires and improve occupant survivability in an accident.”
The new bulletin “recommends that all owners and operators be aware of the fuel system crash-resistance capability of helicopters they operate.”
The list of fully compliant rotorcraft includes Leonardo's AW109S Power and AW109SP GrandNew, Airbus Helicopters’ EC120B, EC130T2, EC135 (all models), MBB-BK117C-2 and MBB-BK117D-2, as well as the AS350B3 with Safran Arriel 2D engine (or the AS350B3e) when modified under Supplemental Type Certificate SR03931NY, which was awarded to Airbus July 12.
The fully compliant aircraft also include Bell Helicopter’s 427, 429 and 505, Helicopteres Guimbal’s Cabri G2, Leonardo Helicopters’ AW139 (and AB139), AW169 and AW189, MD Helicopters’ MD600N, Robinson Helicopter’s R66 and Sikorsky’s S-92A.
FAR Parts 27.952 and 29.952 became effective Nov. 2, 1994, but only applied to newly type certificated rotorcraft. There was no requirement to incorporate them retroactively into helicopters type certificated before that date.
The changes were aimed at increasing the level of safety for a survivable crash by decreasing the likelihood of a post-crash fire or delaying its onset. The changes require features that minimize crash-induced fuel leaks and their contact with potential fuel ignition sources both during and after the crash, the FAA said, and increase the time occupants have available to egress before a post-crash fire could become critical.
An Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee working group on improving occupant protection in rotorcraft currently is charged with recommending by January 2018 how to best implement those higher standards on newly manufactured rotorcraft and the existing fleet of rotorcraft, not just those type certificated after Nov. 2, 1994.
Correction: This article has been edited to include the Leonardo AW109S and AW109SP among the FAA list of fully compliant rotorcraft. The aircraft have previously been erroneously omitted.