December 4, 2007
UPS Accident Pinpoints Shortfalls in Cargo
Pilots Push for “One Level of Safety” in Regulations, Procedures
WASHINGTON – The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Sunshine Meeting today on United Parcel Service Company (UPS) flight 1307, which landed at the Philadelphia International Airport with an in-flight fire, highlights many of the air safety priorities of the Air Line Pilots Association, Int’l (ALPA) for cargo airline operations.
ALPA applauds the Board’s recognition of the many and varied factors which contributed to this accident. From our support of the NTSB smoke, fire and fume (SFF) recommendations to aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) protection and dangerous goods incidents involving lithium batteries, ALPA continues to be a strong advocate for ‘’One Level of Safety” between passenger and cargo airlines.
“ALPA strongly supports the Board’s recommendations. They are encouraging and, if acted on by the FAA, will increase levels of safety for the cargo community,” said Capt. Bill McReynolds, chairman of the ALPA President’s Committee for Cargo. “The smoke, fire and fume procedures our cargo pilots use today are ineffective against many types of fires, putting both pilots and rescue squads at airports across the nation in unwarranted danger. The FAA must address this issue by updating SFF detection standards and mandating improved checklist procedures and active fire suppression systems for all-cargo aircraft.”
The NTSB stated at today’s meeting that about two planes a day make unscheduled landings involving SFF incidents. ALPA has taken a proactive role in helping the industry to develop standard SFF definitions, philosophies, and a checklist template. The NTSB recognized that a standardized checklist allows flight crews to better deal with an SFF event in a timely manner.
The UPS accident also highlighted the need for aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) protection for both cargo and passenger operations at all airports. Under current regulations, ARFF is only required for passenger operations.
“While FAA action on the NTSB’s recommendation to require ARFF training for cargo operations will result in improved safety for cargo operations, we need to remember that not all cargo operations will be affected,” said McReynolds. “The sad truth is that airports serving only cargo flights are not required to have firefighters standing by. This gaping hole in the safety net puts crews operating all-cargo aircraft at undue risk.”
ALPA also voiced its concern with the transportation of all batteries in cargo shipments. If improperly manufactured, packaged, or handled, batteries have the potential to spark a fire aboard an aircraft—often hours after the initial damage took place. Despite this hazard, most battery shipments are exempt from the packaging, labeling and pilot notification provisions which apply to fully-regulated dangerous goods shipments. There is an even higher level of danger for large cargo shipments of lithium ion (secondary) and lithium metal (primary) batteries.
“Regulations that govern the packaging and transport of batteries are insufficient and not in line with the significant risk posed by the shipments. Batteries continue to cause incidents in transportation, and the level of safety must be raised,” said McReynolds. “Specifically, primary batteries should be banned from cargo aircraft as they have been from passenger aircraft, because a fire involving these non-rechargeable lithium batteries would likely be unstoppable, even with current aircraft suppression systems.”
The President’s Committee for Cargo, formed in 2002, helps ALPA advocate the need for “One Level of Safety” on all-cargo airline operations. Founded in 1931, ALPA is the world’s largest pilot union representing more than 60,000 pilots at 42 airlines in the U.S. and Canada. Visit the ALPA website at www.alpa.org.
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Contact: Pete Janhunen, Linda Shotwell, Molly Martin, (703) 481-4440 or firstname.lastname@example.org