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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation A-10-116
Details
Synopsis: On December 20, 2008, about 1818 mountain standard time, Continental Airlines flight 1404, a Boeing 737-500, N18611, departed the left side of runway 34R during takeoff from Denver International Airport (DEN), Denver, Colorado. A postcrash fire ensued. The captain and 5 of the 110 passengers were seriously injured; the first officer, 2 cabin crewmembers, and 38 passengers received minor injuries; and 1 cabin crewmember and 67 passengers (3 of whom were lap-held children) were uninjured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The scheduled, domestic passenger flight, operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 121, was departing DEN and was destined for George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, Texas. At the time of the accident, visual meteorological conditions prevailed, with strong and gusty winds out of the west. The flight operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Require cockpit crew seats installed in newly manufactured airplanes that were type certificated before 1988 to meet the crashworthiness standards contained in 14 Code of Federal Regulations 25.562.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action
Mode: Aviation
Location: Denver, CO, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: DCA09MA021
Accident Reports: Runway Side Excursion During Attempted Takeoff in Strong and Gusty Crosswind Conditions Continental Airlines Flight 1404, Boeing 737-500, NN18611
Report #: AAR-10-04
Accident Date: 12/20/2008
Issue Date: 7/29/2010
Date Closed: 12/22/2014
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FAA (Closed - Acceptable Alternate Action)
Keyword(s): Regulation

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 12/22/2014
Response: We have reconsidered the position stated in your letter, that attrition of older aircraft addresses this recommendation in an acceptable alternate manner. We note, in particular, that you promote compliance with 14 CFR 25.562 for derivatives of aircraft certificated before 1988 and that your data show that derivative versions of aircraft types originally certified before 1988 currently meet many of the requirements of 14 CFR 25.562. We agree that this is an acceptable alternate method of satisfying Safety Recommendation A-10-116. Accordingly, the recommendation is classified CLOSED—ACCEPTABLE ALTERNATE ACTION.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 11/18/2014
Response: -From Michael P. Huerta, Administrator: To address the Board's request concerning the cost-benefit analysis related to flight deck seats, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) clarifies that a specific cost-benefit analysis was not included in the final rule issued on October 27, 2005; however, the FAA did consider flight deck seats for inclusion in the rule. Flight deck seats were included in the Retrofit of Improved Seats in Air Carrier Transport Category Airplanes Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, issued on May 17, 1988, but were subsequently removed from the proposed rule in the FAA's Notice of public meeting, Reopening of Comment Period, dated October 30, 1998. We detailed the rationale for excluding the flight deck seats in the Improved Seats in Air Carrier Transport Category Airplanes Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, published October 4, 2002, and in the formal rule issued on October 27, 2005. Furthermore, the FAA continues to find that attrition of older aircraft effectively addresses this recommendation, and we continue to promote compliance with§ 25.562 for derivatives of aircraft certificated before 1988. Recent data suggest that derivative versions of aircraft types that were originally certified before 1988 have subsequently changed the certification basis to meet many of the requirements of§ 25.562. For example, one of the most common transport category aircraft that meets this description is the Boeing 737 aircraft. Earlier models, such as the 737-500, did not require certification to § 25.562 standards; however, newer derivative models of the 737 require certification to many of the requirements of this standard. The FAA anticipates that this trend with derivative aircraft will continue and therefore serve to further reduce the number of newly produced transport category aircraft that are not required to comply with § 25.562 for flight deck seats. I believe the FAA has effectively addressed this safety recommendation and consider our actions complete.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 7/12/2012
Response: Current FAA regulations require newly manufactured airplanes to have seats installed throughout the cabin that can withstand a force of 16 g; however, regulations do not require airplanes with a type certificate issued before 1988 to be equipped with such seats for the cockpit crew. The FAA determined that mandating the crashworthiness requirements of 14 CFR 25.562 for flight deck seats of aircraft certificated before 1988 did not provide sufficient safety benefits to justify the cost. However, in our review of the FAA Improved Seats in Air Carrier Transport Category Airplanes Rule, issued on October 27, 2005, and amendments to the associated regulations, we did not find a cost-benefit analysis related to this issue, and we disagree with the FAA’s position that the attrition of older airplanes will effectively address this recommendation. In this accident, the pilot and co-pilot suffered injuries from seats that had been certified using the static load requirements contained in 14 CFR Part 25.561, which are less rigorous than the dynamic requirements of 14 CFR Part 25.562. Injuries were also sustained by the pilot of a previously cited accident involving American Eagle flight 5401 at the Luis Muñoz International Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico, on May 9, 2004. Although the crash forces experienced in these accidents in not precisely known, energy-absorbing seats that meet the requirements of 14 CFR 25.562 would provide a higher level of safety for cockpit crewmembers, would likely lessen or eliminate injuries under survivable crash loads, and would be in keeping with the FAA’s policy of “one level of safety.” Accordingly, pending the FAA’s reconsideration of its position and its action to require cockpit crew seats installed in newly manufactured airplanes that were type certificated before 1988 to meet the crashworthiness standards contained in 14 CFR Part 25.562, Safety Recommendation A-10-116 is classified OPEN—UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 4/3/2012
Response: -From Michael P. Huerta, Acting Administrator: Flight deck seats were evaluated for inclusion in the original 14 CFR part 121 rule. Based on the original assessment during the development of the rule, the FAA determined that the inclusion of flight deck seats did not provide sufficient safety benefits to justify the cost. Because the § 25.562 rule is already required as part of the certification basis for many airplanes currently in production and scheduled for future production, attrition of older airplanes in production may effectively address this recommendation. Therefore, we do not see a need to mandate crashworthiness improvements to cockpit crew seats certified before 1988 that are being installed in newly manufactured airplanes. I believe the FAA has effectively addressed this safety recommendation and I consider our actions complete.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 12/16/2011
Response: The FAA indicated that it intends to study both its decision to publish the Improved Seats in Air Carrier Transport Category Airplanes Rule on October 27, 2005, without the inclusion of flight deck seats, and the NTSB’s investigation of flight deck seat failure in the subject accident. Pending implementation of the recommended requirement, Safety Recommendation A-10-116 is classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 10/14/2010
Response: CC#201000393: - From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: The FAA intends to evaluate the Board's investigation of the flight deck seat failure in the subject accident and review the decision to exclude flight deck seats from the Improved Seats in Air Carrier Transport Category Airplanes Rule issued on October 27, 2005.