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On June 1, 1999, at 2350:44 central daylight time, American Airlines flight 1420, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-82 (MD-82), N215AA, crashed after it overran the end of runway 4R during landing at Little Rock National Airport in Little Rock, Arkansas. Flight 1420 departed from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Texas, about 2240 with 2 flight crewmembers, 4 flight attendants, and 139 passengers aboard and touched down in Little Rock at 2350:20. After departing the end of the runway, the airplane struck several tubes extending outward from the left edge of the instrument landing system localizer array, located 411 feet beyond the end of the runway; passed through a chain link security fence and over a rock embankment to a flood plain, located approximately 15 feet below the runway elevation; and collided with the structure supporting the runway 22L approach lighting system. The captain and 10 passengers were killed; the first officer, the flight attendants, and 105 passengers received serious or minor injuries; and 24 passengers were not injured. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire. Flight 1420 was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 121 on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan.
TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Amend 14 Code of Federal Regulations 139.319(j) to require a minimum Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting staffing level that would allow exterior firefighting and rapid entry into an airplane to perform interior firefighting and rescue of passengers and crewmembers.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Unacceptable Action
LITTLE ROCK, AR, United States
Runway Overrun During Landing, American Airlines Flight 1420, McDonnell Douglas MD-82
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FAA (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Airport Rescue and Firefighting, Staffing
Safety Recommendation History
This recommendation asks that the FAA revise its historic position regarding ARFF staffing levels with the understanding that the primary purpose of ARFF is to begin a concentrated effort to suppress an aircraft fire so that the crew and passengers will have a safe escape route. We are aware that, in response to this recommendation, the FAA asked its Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee to establish an ARFF requirements working group that would consider ARFF staffing levels and that, when the committee was unable to reach a consensus on this issue, the FAA sponsored a research project through the Transportation Research Board’s Airport Cooperative Research Program, which reviewed air carrier passenger aircraft accidents from 1989 to January 2011. Based on the conclusions of this research, the FAA has decided not to take such action. The NTSB continues to believe that ARFF crews arriving at the scene of a burning airplane should have sufficient staff to begin rescue efforts for passengers and crew inside the burning airplane who may be disabled or otherwise unable to escape. Because the FAA does not plan to take the recommended action, however, Safety Recommendation A-01-65 is classified CLOSED—UNACCEPTABLE ACTION.
CC#201100305: - From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: Historically, the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) position regarding aircraft rescue and fire fighting (ARFF) staffing levels has been that the primary purpose of ARFF was to begin a concentrated effort to knock down an aircraft fire so that the crew and passengers would have a safe escape route. ARFF personnel would be augmented by the local fire jurisdiction responding from off the airport to provide personnel for rescue and medical triage. The FAA asked the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC) to establish an ARFF requirements working group. The working group included firefighters and representatives from the Air Line Pilots Association, Air Transport Association of America, Inc., American Association of Airport Executives, Airports Council International, International Association of Fire Fighters, International Association of Fire Chiefs, Independent Pilots Association, Professional Flight Attendants Association, and airports. The working group reviewed § 139.319, ARFF requirements, and submitted a report to the FAA on how the ARFF regulatory requirements may need to be revised based on new technologies, new aircraft, and lessons learned. The ARFF staffing level was one of the major items studied by the working group. In a letter dated June 23, 2009, the ARAC stated the committee was unable to reach a consensus on the findings. The report is available at www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/rulemaking/committees/arac/media/apc/ACP_RFR_Tl.pdf. Due to the inconclusive findings from the ARAC, the FAA sponsored a research project through the Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP). ACRP Project 11-02, Task 12, Risk Assessment of Proposed ARFF Standards, was completed in January 2011 and can be found at onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/acrp/acrp_webdoc_012.pdf. This research team reviewed air carrier passenger aircraft accidents from 1989 to the present to determine if changes to ARFF standards would have reduced the number of fatalities or serious injuries resulting from these accidents. The research team was tasked with comparing the standards set forth by the FAA, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). The team's conclusion was that a change in ARFF standards would not have reduced fatalities or serious injuries in any of the accidents which it reviewed. The research indicated that there is no conclusive evidence in the accident reports that fatalities or serious injuries would be reduced by replacing the current part 139 ARFF standards with those found in ICAO Annex 14 or the NFPA 403, Standard for Aircraft Rescue and Fire-Fighting Services at Airports, and its associated documents. The FAA agrees with the findings of this report and does not believe amending the current requirements would lead to the desired outcome of the recommendation. Therefore, the FAA is not planning to amend § 139.3190) to require minimum ARFF staffing levels. I believe the FAA has effectively addressed this safety recommendation, and I consider our actions complete.
The FAA states that, historically, its position regarding ARFF staffing levels has been that the primary purpose of ARFF was to begin a concentrated effort to knock down an aircraft fire so that crew and passengers would have a safe escape route. The FAA recognizes that this position needs to be reviewed and, consequently, has asked the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC), Airports Issues Group, to establish an ARFF Requirements Working Group to review Title 14 CFR Part 139 ARFF requirements and make recommendations for revisions to the ARFF regulations. The FAA reports that the ARFF staffing level is one of the major items to be studied by the working group. Safety Recommendation A-01-65 is classified OPEN -- ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE pending results of the ARAC Working Group and implementation of the recommendation.
Letter Mail Controlled 02/21/2002 7:49:04 PM MC# 2020178 - From Jane F. Garvey, Administrator: Historically, the FAA's position regarding ARFF staffing levels has been that the primary purpose of ARFF was to begin a concentrated effort to knockdown an aircraft fire so that crew and passengers would have a safe escape route. The ARFF personnel would be augmented by the local fire jurisdiction responding from off the airport to provide personnel for rescue and medical triage. This is in concert with procedures used by local jurisdictions in staffing fire stations throughout any municipality. The FAA recognizes that the larger aircraft is reason to review its position. Consequently, the FAA has asked the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC), Airports Issues Group, to establish an ARFF Requirements Working Group. The working group consists of firefighters and representatives from airports, the Air Line Pilots Association, the Air Transport Association, the American Association of Airport Executives, the Airports Council International, the ARFF Working Group, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the Independent Pilots Association, and the Professional Flight Attendants Association. Over the next year the working group will review 14 CFR Part 139 ARFF requirements and make recommendations to the FAA on how the ARFF regulatory requirements may need to be revised based on new technologies, new aircraft, and lessons learned. The ARFF staffing level is one of the major items to be studied by the working group.
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