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General Aviation Safety
ON JANUARY 13, 1982, AIR FLORIDA FLIGHT 90, A BOEING 737-222 (N62AF) STRUCK THE NORTHBOUND SPAN OF THE 14TH STREET BRIDGE WHICH CONNECTS THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA WITH ARLINGTON, COUNTY, VIRGINIA, AND PLUNGED INTO THE ICE-COVERED POTOMAC RIVER JUST AFTER TAKING OFF FROM WASHINGTON NATIONAL AIRPORT. SEVENTY OF THE 74 PASSENGERS, 4 OF THE 5 CREWMEMBERS, AND 4 PERSONS IN VEHICLES ON THE BRIDGE WERE FATALLY INJURED. THE WEATHER CONDITIONS WHICH HAD PREVAILED BEFORE AND AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT CONSISTED OF SUBFREEZING TEMPERATURES AND ALMOST STEADY MODERATE TO HEAVY SNOWFALL WITH OBSCURED VISIBILITY.
THE NTSB RECOMMENDS THAT THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: PROVIDE FOR ESSENTIAL EQUIPMENT AND INCREASED PERSONNEL TRAINING TO IMPROVE THE WATER RESCUE CAPABILITIES AT THE WASHINGTON NATIONAL AIRPORT IN ALL ANTICIPATED WEATHER CONDITIONS, AND PROVIDE NECESSARY FUNDING FOR SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES AND JURISDICTIONS WHICH WILL BE CALLED ON TO SUPPORT THE AIRPORT'S RESCUE RESPONSE.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Acceptable Action
Washington, DC, United States
Air Florida, Inc., Boeing 737-222, N62AF, Collision with 14th Street Bridge
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FAA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Airport Rescue and Firefighting, Training and Education, Water Survival
Safety Recommendation History
We note that all planned water rescue equipment for use at Washington National Airport has been acquired. We also note that the FAA has plans to purchase a replacement for the airport ambulance and has received delivery of a new 3000-gallon mid-size crash/fire/rescue unit. These actions to improve the water rescue equipment and capabilities at Washington National Airport satisfy the intent of this recommendation which we now classify in a "Closed--Acceptable Action" status.
FAA LETTER: ALL PLANNED WATER RESCUE EQUIPMENT HAS BEEN ACQUIRED. WE NOW HAVE A FLEET OF FOUR BOATS CONSISTING OF ONE 40-FOOT SURPLUS COAST GUARD CUTTER WITH MODEST ICEBRAKING CAPABILITY, ONE 22-FOOT BOSTON WHALER, AND TWO AIR BOATS. ADDITIONALLY, OTHER EQUIPMENT SUCH AS RAFTS, INFLATABLE LINES, ETC., HAS BEEN PLACED ON LAND-BASED EQUIPMENT AS WELL AS THE BOATS.
We note that the FAA has a planned program to replace and update the crash/fire/rescue (CFR) equipment at Washington National Airport. This replacement program, which will significantly increase the water rescue capabilities at National Airport, will be completed during calendar year 1983. In the interim, a second airboat, a 22-foot Boston Whaler, and a 40-foot Coast Guard vessel which has ice- breaking capability, have been added to the rescue equipment inventory at National. In addition, 10-man rafts, handlines, lifelines, survival suits and "Billy Pugh" nets have been ordered or purchased for use by CFR personnel. Finally, the FAA has constructed an additional boat launching ramp, has added equipment to the airport's south boathouse, and has initiated plans for the construction of an on-airport boathouse. These actions and plans to increase and modernize the water rescue equipment and to enhance generally the airport's rescue facilities are in full accord with the intent of this recommendation. The part of Safety Recommendation A- 82-87 pertaining to CFR equipment will be classified as "Open--Acceptable Action" pending completion of the program during 1983. We would appreciate being informed when the program is complete. In addition, we are pleased to note that the FAA has, since the accident, intensified and accelerated the water rescue training program at Washington National Airport. This effort includes additional manpower in the water rescue program, the implementation of a diver training program, and the execution of several full-scale disaster drills. The most recent disaster drill was directed at rescue efforts required as a result of a crash on the airport and a downed airplane in the water. This drill was held at night and included the District of Columbia's water rescue equipment and other resources. We would appreciate receiving a copy of the Data Source: NTSB Recommendations to FAA and FAA Responses critique. These improvements in the water rescue training plan at Washington National Airport are in complete accord with the objective of this recommendation. The part of Safety Recommendation A-82-87 relating to training has been classified as "Closed--Acceptable Action." We note that the FAA disagrees with that part of Safety Recommendation A-82-87 which suggests that the FAA provide "...funding for surrounding communities and jurisdictions which will be called on to support the airport's rescue response." Instead, the FAA supports the use of mutual aid agreements with the communities that surround the airport and its flightpaths which do not involve Federal funding. These mutual aid agreements define, for each community, the territorial jurisdiction and primary responsibility for off-airport rescue service. Each community assumes the burden of funding appropriate rescue equipment and training needs to carry out its responsibility. We agree that such mutual aid agreements with their associated local funding of rescue equipment as described by the FAA are acceptable for providing the needed off-airport rescue services. As long as there are workable mutual aid agreements with the surrounding jurisdictions, there is no need for the FAA to provide funding for the rescue equipment. It was our understanding, however, that not all local jurisdictions are in a good position or willing to make expenditures for equipment they would need to support an off-airport rescue role. Our recommendation was directed to these situations. We note that a mutual aid agreement with the District of Columbia is near completion. We would appreciate receiving a copy of the agreement when it is approved. We believe that the concept and implementation of mutual aid agreements with communities surrounding the airport is an acceptable alternate to the FAA providing sole funding for rescue equipment and training. Therefore, the part of Safety Recommendation A-82-87 pertaining to funding has been classified as "Closed--Acceptable Alternate Action." Finally, the FAA states that it does not agree that it should have responsibility for river rescue associated with National Airport operations. We did not intend to suggest in Safety Recommendation A-82-87 that it should have such responsibility. Insofar as water rescue is concerned what is important is that there be adequate preplanning and that there be resources available to effect rescues. In this regard, the mutual aid agreement under negotiation which we understand will place the primary responsibility for river rescue with the District of Columbia will meet our objectives. We note with interest that the secondary water rescue area for the airport has been expanded south to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, northwest to the Chain Bridge and northeast to the New York Avenue roadway crossing.
FAA LTR: (A) THE FAA HAS A PLANNED PROGRAM TO REPLACE AND UPDATE THE CRASH/FIRE/RESCUE EQUIPMENT AT WASHINGTON NATIONAL AIRPORT. THIS REPLACEMENT PROGRAM WILL INCREASE THE WATER RESCUE CAPABILITIES AT NATIONAL. IT INCLUDES THE ADDITION OF AN AIRBOAT, A 22-FOOT BOSTON WHALER, AND A 40-FOOT ICE BREAKING VESSEL TO THE RESCUE EQUIPMENT INVENTORY AT NATIONAL. IT ALSO INCLUDES THE PURCHASE OF ADDITIONAL RESCUE EQUIPMENT SUCH AS RAFTS, INFLATABLE LIFELINES, SURVIVAL SUITS, AND LARGE NETS. (B) THE FAA HAS INTENSIFIED AND ACCELERATED THE WATER RESCUE TRAINING PROGRAM AT WASHINGTON NATIONAL AIRPORT. THIS EFFORT INCLUDES ADDING MANPOWER RESOURCES TO THE WATER RESCUE PROGRAM, IMPLEMENTATION OF A WATER DIVER TRAINING PROGRAM AND THE EXECUTION OF SEVERAL FULL-SCALE DISASTER DRILLS. (C) THE FAA DOES NOT AGREE WITH THE PART OF THIS RECOMMENDATION CONCERNING FUNDING FOR SURROUNDING JURISDICTIONS. INSTEAD, THE FAA SUPPORTS MUTUAL AID AGREEMENTS WITH THE SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES WHEREIN EACH JURISDICTION IS RESPONSIBLE FOR FUNDING RESCUE EQUIPMENT AND TRAINING FOR ITS PROGRAM.
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