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Transport Canada, Safety Board Divided On Post-Crash Fires

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photo credit: The Canadian Press

photo credit: The Canadian Press

Public comments from each agency suggest that Canada's Transportation Safety Board and Transport Canada may be divided regarding how each would prefer to address the issue of post-crash fires, and those differences have sparked some finger pointing. The Safety Board recently released a report probing an October 2011 crash in which the two pilots of a Beechcraft King Air 100 suffered fatal burns. In that report, the safety board suggested the pilots might have survived the crash had regulators (Transport Canada) not ignored recommendations to reduce the probability of post-crash fires. Transport Canada has now responded saying that its not clear the recommendations would work, that it would take significant research to find out, and that a different approach may be more effective.

Transport Canada's director general of civil aviation, Martin Eley, told TheProvince.com that other regulators, like the FAA, focus instead on preventing the crashes that may lead to post-crash fires. He said that approach puts a focus on areas of flight that contribute to the largest number of accidents and he characterized post-crash fire prevention as "focusing on a particular piece that is not going to create the same impact in terms of the overall fatality numbers." The Safety Board's own conclusions regarding the King Air crash were that a series of problems, including maintenance failures and pilot performance, contributed to the crash. It also stated that the pilots could have survived if arcing wires had not ignited a fire in the cockpit after the crash. They recommended that technology to disconnect wiring from aircraft batteries upon impact could reduce or prevent post-crash fires.

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