Fiery crashes in which helicopter occupants survive but die of burn injuries are sustaining public and political pressure on the FAA to review certification rules.
Several members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Tennessee are the latest lawmakers to focus on the aviation agency’s responses to longstanding recommendations to adopt more stringent certification standards for crash-resistant fuel systems.
“We’re looking into that right now,” Rep. Jimmy Duncan told the Tennessee TV station WBIR. Duncan serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, a major congressional panel that oversees the FAA. Other congressman from the state expressing concern on the matter include Reps. Chuck Fleischmann and Phil Roe.
Their comments came in the wake of autopsy findings that four of five people killed in the April 4 crash died of burn injured; the fifth died of blunt trauma injuries, according to reports on the autopsy. Their deaths came when a sightseeing Bell Helicopter 206L collided with terrain while maneuvering near Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
The FAA has convened an industry working group to perform a cost-benefit analysis of requiring crash-resistant fuel systems and other occupant protections on all newly built U.S. certificated helicopters. Current rules only require such systems on helicopters type certificated after October 1994.