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Safety Recommendation A-99-057
Details
Synopsis: ON 7/3/97, AT 1730 ALASKA DAYLIGHT TIME, A WHEEL-EQUIPPED PIPER PA-32, N15199, DITCHED IN THE OCEAN APPROXIMATELY 1 1/2 MILES SOUTHWEST OF SKAGWAY, AK. THE VISUAL FLIGHT RULES (VFR) FLIGHT WAS BEING CONDUCTED AS A NONSCHEDULED SIGHTSEEING FLIGHT UNDER 14 CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS (CFR) PART 135. THE PILOT REPORTED THAT SHE WAS BETWEEN 1/4 AND 1/2 MILE FROM THE SHORE OF TAIYA INLET DESCENDING FOR LANDING AT THE SKAGWAY AIRPORT WHEN THE ENGINE STOPPED ABOUT 1,200 FEET ABOVE THE WATER. THE PILOT DITCHED THE AIRPLANE ABOUT 100 FEET FROM SHORE BECAUSE SHE WAS UNABLE TO GLIDE THE AIRPLANE TO THE AIRPORT OR OTHER BEACH AREAS. THE SIX OCCUPANTS, WHO WERE NOT WEARING LIFE JACKETS, EXITED THE AIRPLANE AND ENTERED 39 F WATER. THE PILOT WAS NOT INJURED, ONE PASSENGER SUSTAINED MINOR INJURIES, AND TWO PASSENGERS DROWNED. TWO PASSENGERS WERE MISSING AND PRESUMED TO HAVE DIED.
Recommendation: THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: REQUIRE ALL OCCUPANTS OF SINGLE-ENGINE AIRPLANES AND SINGLE-ENGINE HELICOPTERS OPERATED FOR HIRE (AIR TAXI AND AIR TOUR) TO WEAR LIFE PRESERVERS WHEN THE AIRCRAFT IS OPERATING OVER WATER, WHETHER FLOAT-EQUIPPED OR NOT, UNLESS IT IS OPERATED AT AN ALTITUDE THAT ALLOWS IT TO REACH A SUITABLE LANDING AREA IN THE CASE OF AN ENGINE FAILURE. (Supersedes Safety Recommendation A-95-062)
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Unacceptable Action
Mode: Aviation
Location: SKAGWAY, AK, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: ANC97FA097
Accident Reports:
Report #: None
Accident Date: 7/3/1997
Issue Date: 11/23/1999
Date Closed: 11/21/2007
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FAA (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Keyword(s):

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 11/21/2007
Response: (nmc 103031) Safety Recommendations A-99-57 and -58, stated below, were issued to the FAA as a result of the Safety Board’s investigation of two accidents. On July 3, 1997, a Piper PA-32 ditched in the ocean approximately l-1/2 miles southwest of Skagway, Alaska, while on an air tour flight. On June 22, 1994, a deHavilland DHC3 crashed into Taku Inlet, about 12 miles east of Juneau, Alaska, while on an air taxi flight. The Safety Board notes that the February 13, 2007, final rule fully addresses these recommendations for air tour flights, but the FAA has not taken any action for air taxi flights. Since these recommendations were issued, the FAA has maintained that differences in the nature of air tour and air taxi flight operations support the recommended actions for air tour flights but do not support the recommended actions for air taxi flights. The FAA has not taken, nor is it planning to take, any action to address these recommendations with respect to air taxi flights. Therefore, Safety Recommendations A-99-57 and -58 are classified Closed Unacceptable Action

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 10/22/2003
Response: NPRM issued 10/22/03 on National Air Tour Safety Standards.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 9/24/2001
Response: The Safety Board is pleased by much of what the FAA proposes and believes these steps will improve the safety of overwater operations. However, the Board remains concerned that air taxi operations will be excluded from the proposed requirement to wear life preservers when an aircraft is operating over water or beyond any shoreline, unless an operator can show that the water is not of such size and depth that wearing a life preserver would be required for survival. The Board asks the FAA to reconsider the exclusion of air taxi operations from this requirement. Pending issuance of the NPRM and the adoption of a final rule that covers both air taxi and air tour operations, Safety Recommendation A-99-57 remains classified "Open--Unacceptable Response."

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 5/15/2001
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 05/18/2001 6:34:16 PM MC# 2010418: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) drafted a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) proposing to require that each operator of a commercial air tour flight over water or beyond any shoreline ensure that each passenger is wearing an approved life preserver that is ready for use, except for inflation. An operator can operate without life preservers if it can show that the water over which the aircraft is operated is not of such size and depth that wearing a life preserver would be required for the survival of its occupants in the event the flight terminates in that water. The NPRM is currently in executive coordination. The Board agreed in its letter dated April 6, 2000, with the proposal and exclusion in the air tour NPRM for air tour operators. However, the Board expressed concern that other air taxis can legally operate at the same low altitudes as air tours and that the FAA was proposing two levels of safety-one for air tours and another for air taxis. For air tour and all 14 CFR Part 135 operations, the current regulation (14 CFR 91.205(b) (12)) requires that an aircraft operated for hire over water and beyond power-off gliding distance from shore have approved flotation gear readily available to each occupant and at least one pyrotechnic signaling device. In addition, 14 CFR 135.167 requires the following equipment for extended overwater operations (50 nautical miles from nearest shoreline or off-shore heliport structure) : ·An approved life preserver equipped with an approved survivor locator light for each occupant of the aircraft. The life preserver must be easily accessible to each seated occupant. ·Enough approved liferafts to accommodate the occupants of the aircraft. ·Each liferaft must be equipped with or contain at least the following: (1) One approved survivor locator light. (2) One approved pyrotechnic signaling device. The FAA is proposing a regulation for improved water survival equipment. This NPRM, which is currently in executive coordination, proposes the following changes for all 14 CFR Part 135 operations: ·Adds a briefing requirement for location and use of life preservers and/or inflatable individual flotation devices, flotation seat cushions, life rafts, and other flotation means. ·Adds a new section that requires inspection, accessibility, and identification of flotation equipment. ·Requires a flotation seat cushion for each passenger seat (or an approved flotation means for each adult, child, and infant for aircraft with 19 or fewer passenger seats that cannot show proper cushion fit). ·Requires that an infant/small child life preserver be provided for each infant and small child on board. ·Requires that all life preservers on board, other than infant/small child preservers, be standardized for donning, retention, adjustment, and inflation actuation means. ·Requires that adult and child life preservers be accessible to the seated occupants. While this NPRM does not require the wearing of flotation equipment, it provides for improved standardization, donning, accessibility, and briefing requirements that the FAA believes will provide a higher level of safety for all 14 CFR Part 135 operations. In addition, because air tour operators routinely operate at low altitudes and have a higher risk exposure in overwater operations, the FAA is proposing to require the wearing of life preservers, as well as other safety requirements to include flotation equipment and passenger briefings, for air tour operations. I will provide the Board with copies of the NPRM's as soon as they are published in the Federal Register.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 4/24/2000
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 05/03/2000 1:24:56 PM MC# 2000596:

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 4/6/2000
Response: THE SAFETY BOARD NOTES THAT THE NPRM WILL REQUIRE THAT LIFE PRESERVERS BE WORN BY PASSENGERS ON AIR TOUR FLIGHTS, EXCLUDING THOSE OPERATORS WHO CAN DEMONSTRATE THAT THEY OPERATE ONLY OVER WATER WHOSE SIZE AND DEPTH WOULD NOT PRESENT A SURVIVABILITY ISSUE. A-99-57 PROPOSED AN EXCLUSION FOR FLIGHTS OPERATED AT AN ALTITUDE THAT WOULD ALLOW THEM TO REACH A SUITABLE LANDING AREA IN THE EVENT OF AN ENGINE FAILURE. THE EXCLUSION IN THE NPRM IS AN ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATIVE. HOWEVER, THE SAFETY BOARD ALSO NOTES THAT THE NPRM PROPOSES THIS REQUIREMENT ONLY FOR AIR TOUR OPERATORS, NOT FOR AIR TAXI OPERATORS. THE BOARD DISAGREES WITH THE FAA'S ASSESSMENT THAT AIR TAXI OPERATORS FLY AT SUFFICIENTLY HIGH ALTITUDES AND THAT CURRENT REQUIREMENTS FOR EXTENDED OVERWATER OPERATIONS IN 14 CFR PART 135 ARE ADEQUATE. IT IS LEGAL FOR AIR TAXI 14 CFR PART 135 OPERATORS TO OPERATE AT THE LOWER ALTITUDES THAT AIRTOUR OPERATORS USE, AND THE SAFETY BOARD BELIEVES THAT MANY AIR TAXI OPERATORS FLY AT THESE LOWER ALTITUDES. THE SAFETY BOARD IS CONCERNED THAT THE FAA IS PROPOSING TWO LEVELS OF SAFETY, ONE FOR AIR TOURS AND ANOTHER FOR AIR TAXIS. PENDING THE ISSUANCE OF AN NPRM THAT REQUIRES BOTH AIR TOUR AND AIR TAXI 14 CFR PART 135 OPERATORS TO OUTFIT ALL OCCUPANTS OF SINGLE-ENGINE AIRPLANES AND SINGLE-ENGINE HELICOPTERS WITH LIFE PRESERVERS WHEN AIRCRAFT ARE OPERATING OVER WATER, A-99-57 IS CLASSIFIED "OPEN--UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE."

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 2/1/2000
Response: Letter Mail Controlled 02/14/2000 4:25:39 PM MC# 2000245: The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) agrees, in part, with this safety recommendation. The FAA has drafted a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) to require that each person operating a commercial air tour flight over water or beyond any shoreline must ensure that each passenger is wearing an approved life preserver that is ready for use, except for inflation. An operator can operate without life preservers if it can show that the water over which the aircraft is operated is not of such size and depth that wearing a life preserver would be required for the survival of its occupants in the event the flight terminates in that water. Life preservers are currently only required for extended overwater operations under 14 CFR Part 135. The NPRM only proposes a new requirement for life preservers for commercial air tour operators who fly over water of sufficient size or depth. Air tour operators generally fly over a prescribed route and at lower altitudes than other 14 CFR Part 135 operations and could equip their aircraft based on route and altitude of flight. Because other 14 CFR Part 135 operators are authorized broad geographical areas of operation and it is not generally known in advance whether or not a flight would be operated over water at a prescribed altitude, adoption of this recommendation would necessitate that all single-engine aircraft operated under 14 CFR Part 135 be equipped with life preservers. This action would necessitate a maintenance program, manual and training requirements, briefing requirements, and would impose a weight penalty. The FAA believes that the present requirement for life preservers during 14 CFR Part 135 extended overwater operations provides a proper level of safety. A further requirement to equip all single-engine 14 CFR Part 135 aircraft with life preservers in the event of flight over water would be an unnecessary requirement. The FAA's "Safer Skies" safety agenda has identified survivability as one of the focus areas. As part of the agenda, the FAA has produced a video and published a pamphlet entitled "Water Survival: The Skills You Never Want to Use." The video and pamphlet address the use and accessibility of life preservers. The FAA will work with operators to have these items incorporated into 14 CFR Part 135 safety program initiatives, and the FAA will direct Safety Program Managers to use them as special emphasis program areas in 14 CFR Part 135 safety programs. I have enclosed copies of the video and pamphlet for the Board's information. I will provide the Board with a copy of the NPRM as soon as it is issued.