NTSB Urges FAA Action On CRJ Fires

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The NTSB says the FAA should immediately address a potentially catastrophic problem lurking in the avionics bays of Bombardier CRJ-200 regional jets. Board investigators found that on rainy or snowy days, water gets on the floor beside the open door and can seep into the avionics bay causing electrical contactors to catch fire. They've done so seven times so far (six in the last six months) and, although there have been no fatal accidents, the hazards are obvious. In some instances, the screens up front have gone blank, at least temporarily and, well, fire is just a bad thing all around to have in an airliner cabin. The electrical contactors involved form the heart of the plane's electrical system. They're the link from the engine-mounted 30 KVA generators to all the things that use electricity on the plane. As an immediate measure, the NTSB wants electrical sources separated so that all the EFIS equipment doesn't quit at the same time, which compounds the emergency. It wants the contactors moisture-proofed somehow and it wants tests done to ensure the fixes work. Also, there are two types of contactors in use on the aircraft and only one has so far caught fire. The NTSB wants the fire-prone ones replaced.