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Double Standard On Safety

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Groups representing cargo pilots are calling on the FAA to give fire safety the same priority on cargo aircraft as in passenger planes. During a two-day hearing into the fire that destroyed a UPS DC-8 just after it landed in Philadelphia last February, Shannon Jipsen, a UPS pilot and official with the Independent Pilots Association, the union representing UPS pilots, said cargo aircraft should have mandatory fire suppression systems like those in passenger planes. "We have a double standard here," Jipsen told the hearings. The Air Line Pilots Association joined the call for better training for airport firefighters for cargo aircraft fires. Firefighters took more than four hours to douse the flames, which may have started 25 minutes before the aircraft landed. The crew was four minutes out before the smoke alarm sounded and didn't have much time to spare in getting out of the burning plane. Philadelphia Fire Capt. Gary Loesch said his department's response was slow because firefighters had no training in cargo plane fires. They also were unsure of the contents of the plane and concerned about toxic substances that might be on board. Loesch told the hearings that Philadelphia firefighters are now getting training on fighting cargo fires.

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