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General Aviation Safety
On 5/11/96, about 1415 eastern daylight time, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32 crashed into the everglades swamp shortly after takeoff from Miami International Airport, Miami Florida, the airplane, N904VJ, was operated by ValuJet Airlines, Inc., as ValuJet flight 592. Both pilots, the three flight attendants, and all 105 passengers were killed. Before the accident, the flightcrew reported to air traffic control that it was experiencing smoke in the cabin and cockpit. Visual meteorological conditions existed in the Miami area at the time of the takeoff. The destination of the flight was Hartsfield International Airport, Atlanta, Georgia. Flight 592 was on an instrument flight rules flight plan.
TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Develop, in cooperation with the U.S. Postal Service and the Air Transport Association, programs to educate passengers, shippers and postal customers about the dangers of transporting undeclared hazardous materials aboard aircraft and about the need to properly identify and package hazardous materials before offering them for air cargo, and mail offered by U.S. Postal Service customers.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Closed - Acceptable Action
Miami, FL, United States
In-Flight Fire and Impact With Terrain Valujet Airlines Flight 592 DC-9-32, N904VJ
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
FAA (Closed - Acceptable Action)
Safety Recommendation History
THE PROGRAM REPORTED BY THE FAA MEETS THE INTENT OF THE SAFETY RECOMMENDATION. FURTHER, SAFETY BOARD STAFF HAVE RECENTLY OBSERVED IN AIRPORTS COLORFUL POSTERS AND KIOSKS THAT DISPLAY COMMONLY USED HAZARDOUS MATERIALS THAT MAY NOT BE TRANSPORTED ON AIRCRAFT. WE ARE AWARE THAT EACH OF THESE DISPLAYS RELATES DIRECTLY TO THE EFFORTS OF THE FAA TO INCREASE PUBLIC AWARENESS OF THE DANGERS OF TRANSPORTING HAZARDOUS MATERIALS ON AIRCRAFT, AND WE URGE ACTION TO ENSURE THAT THESE EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS ARE PROMINENTLY DISPLAYED AT ALL AIRPORTS. BECAUSE UNDECLARED HAZARDOUS MATERIALS CONTINUE TO BE A PROBLEM IN AIR TRANSPORTATION, THE FAA MUST CONTINUE DILIGENT EFFORTS TO EDUCATE THE PUBLIC. BECAUSE THE FAA HAS TAKEN THE ACTIONS RECOMMENDED, A-97-76 IS CLASSIFIED AS "CLOSED--ACCEPTABLE ACTION."
Letter Mail Controlled 02/07/2000 3:50:28 PM MC# 2000177 ON 6/24/99, THE FAA PROVIDED THE BOARD WITH A COMPLETE AND THOROUGH RESPONSE TO THIS SAFETY RECOMMENDATION. THE FAA OUTLINED A NUMBER OF ACTIONS TAKEN IN COOPERATION WITH THE RESEARCH AND SPECIAL PROGRAMS ADMINISTRATION (RSPA), THE AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION (ATA), AND THE UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE, THAT SPECIFICALLY ADDRESS THIS RECOMMENDATION. THE FAA CONSIDERED ITS ACTION TO BE COMPLETED. ON 7/23/99, THE BOARD CLASSIFIED THIS RECOMMENDATION AS "OPEN ACCEPTABLE." THE BOARD STATED THAT BECAUSE THE FAA DID NOT SPECIFY THAT THESE ACTIVITIES WERE IN CONJUNCTION WITH ATA OR IDENTIFY SPECIFIC PROGRAMS TO EDUCATE POSTAL CUSTOMERS, IT COULD NOT CLASSIFY THIS RECOMMENDATION IN A "CLOSED" STATUS. THE BOARD STATED THAT IT WOULD APPRECIATE DETAILS ON THESE ACTIVITIES. IN RESPONSE, THE FAA DID INFORM THE BOARD THAT IT HAD WORKED CLOSELY WITH RSPA, ATA, AND THE POSTAL SERVICE ON THE EFFORTS TO ADDRESS TRANSPORTING HAZARDOUS MATERIALS. ON 11/17/97, THE FAA TOLD THE BOARD THAT IT HAD SENT BROCHURES ENTITLED "THESE FLY" (IN ENGLISH AND SPANISH) TO OVER 5 MILLION AIR PASSENGERS. ON 6/24/98, THE FAA TOLD THE BOARD THAT IT HAD DISTRIBUTED OVER 6 MILLION OF THESE BROCHURES AT VARIOUS OUTREACH ACTIVITIES. THE FAA ALSO TOLD THE BOARD THAT POSTER-SIZED PICTORIAL REPRESENTATION OF THE BROCHURE ENTITLED "THESE FLY" WERE DISTRIBUTED TO AIR CARRIERS AND AIRPORT EXECUTIVES. IN ADDITION, COPIES OF A CD-ROM THAT WERE PRODUCED BY THE FAA AND RSPA WERE PROVIDED TO THOSE COMPANIES THAT HANDLE HAZARDOUS MATERIALS, INCLUDING THE AIRLINES. THE FAA ALSO TOLD THE BOARD THAT IT HAD ESTABLISHED A WEB SITE THAT PROVIDES SIGNIFICANT EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES TO AN AUDIENCE EVEN BROADER THAN PASSENGERS, SHIPPERS, AND POSTAL CUSTOMERS. THROUGH THESE SITES, ALL HAZMAT REGULATIONS ARE AVAILABLE ON-LINE. CERTAIN SAFETY ALERTS AND BULLETINS ARE ALSO ON-LINE, AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS ARE AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOADING. LISTINGS OF FREE AND FOR-SALE HAZMAT PUBLICATIONS, VIDEOS, AND CD-ROM'S ARE INCLUDED WITH ALL RELEVANT ORDERING INSTRUCTIONS. THE FAA CONTINUES TO MEET MONTHLY WITH THE U.S. POSTAL SERVICE TO EXCHANGE INFORMATION AND TO ASSIST IT IN ITS EFFORTS TO DESIGN HAZMAT TRAINING PROGRAMS FOR ITS EMPLOYEES AND RELATED EDUCATIONAL MATERIAL FOR ITS CUSTOMERS. SINCE THE BOARD ISSUED IDENTICAL SAFETY RECOMMENDATIONS TO BOTH THE ATA AND THE POSTAL SERVICE, THE FAA BELIEVED THAT IT WAS MORE APPROPRIATE FOR THOSE AGENCIES TO REPORT ON THEIR EFFORTS. IN FACT, ON 10/30/97, THE POSTMASTER GENERAL PROVIDED THE BOARD WITH A COMPLETE OUTLINE OF POSTAL SERVICE EFFORTS TO ADDRESS A-97-79 AND ON 11/16/99, THE BOARD CLASSIFIED A-97-79 IN A "CLOSED ACCEPTABLE" STATUS. THE RECOMMENDATION ASSIGNED TO ATA IS STILL IN AN "OPEN ACCEPTABLE" STATUS PENDING FURTHER RESPONSE FROM THE ATA. I BELIEVE THAT THE FAA HAS TAKEN APPROPRIATE ACTIONS TO ADDRESS THIS SAFETY ISSUE COMPLETELY, AND I PLAN NO FURTHER ACTION IN RESPONSE TO THIS RECOMMENDATION. I ASK THAT THE BOARD CLASSIFY THIS RECOMMENDATION IN A "CLOSED ACCEPTABLE" STATUS.
THE FAA'S RESPONSE, HOWEVER, DID NOT ADDRESS THE FAA'S ACTIVITIES IN CONJUNCTION WITH ATA OR IDENTIFY SPECIFIC PROGRAMS TO EDUCATE POSTAL CUSTOMERS AS RECOMMENDED IN A-97-76. THE SAFETY BOARD WOULD APPRECIATE DETAILS ON THESE ACTIVITIES. PENDING THE BOARD'S RECEIPT OF THIS INFORMATION, A-97-76 IS CLASSIFIED "OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE."
Letter Mail Controlled 6/29/98 3:48:31 PM MC# 980825: The FAA and RSPA have distributed over 6 million copies of the brochure entitled "These Fly" at various outreach activities. The Spanish version is presently being printed for distribution. An initial printing of 250,000 copies has been ordered. A poster-sized pictorial representation of the brochure entitled "These Fly" has been printed and is being distributed. Both FAA and RSPA will provide samples of this poster to air carriers and airport executives to encourage them to purchase a supply for display at airport ticket counters and gates. The latest joint FAA/RSPA product is a new CD-ROM designed to facilitate hazmat training for employees who perform work functions covered by the hazmat regulations. Such employees include those working in shipping, receiving, or material handling areas and those who may be involved in preparing or transporting hazmat. The CD-ROM allows employers to train their employees at any time without disrupting operations by using the most current multi-media computer-based technology. A mailer entitled "Where can you get Hazmat Transportation General Awareness Training for $25?" publicizes the new CD-ROM, provides a form to order the CD-ROM, and publicizes two upcoming Multimodal Hazardous Materials Transportation Seminars sponsored by the Department of Transportation. The mailer was distributed to all air carriers and shippers. I have enclosed a copy of the mailer for the Board's information. Both the FAA and RSPA have established web sites that provide significant educational resources to an audience even broader than passengers, shippers, and postal customers. Through these sites, all of the hazmat regulations are available on-line. Certain safety alerts and bulletins are also on-line, and other publications are available for downloading. Listing of free and for-sale hazmat publications, videos, and CD-ROM's are included with all relevant ordering instructions. In addition, the FAA website (http://cas.faa.gov) depicts where the Dangerous Goods/Cargo Security Program Staff is located. The RSPA web site (http://hazmat.dot.gov) provides a telephone number for persons who have questions regarding any of the training publications at its site, and also provides for immediate e-mail feedback for persons inclined to use the computer rather than the telephone. The FAA continues to meet monthly with the U.S. Postal Service to exchange information and to assist them in their efforts to design hazmat training programs for their employees and related educational material for their customers. I believe that the FAA has met the full intent of this safety recommendation, and I consider the FAA's action to be completed.
The FAA agrees with the intent of this safety recommendation and has already taken several actions to address this issue. These actions include an aggressive public education program and surveillance activities focused on dangerous goods. The FAA will work with the U.S. Postal Service to develop programs to educate postal customers on the dangers of transporting undeclared hazardous materials on board aircraft. The FAA will also meet regularly with Postal Service senior managers so that they can keep their postal employees informed of emerging issues or problems discovered during inspections or trend analysis. The FAA, ATA, and RSPA have initiated several efforts in the past on the subject of transporting hazardous materials. The FAA and RSPA published a brochure entitled "These Fly" and distributed over 5 million copies to air passengers. This brochure educates passengers on the types of hazardous materials they may or may not carry in their baggage. I have enclosed a copy of the brochure for the Board's information. The FAA is also printing this brochure in Spanish. The FAA is evaluating ways in which to expand the distribution of this information, such as signage at passenger ticket counters and gate areas and public service announcements or messages on airport television networks. On July 17, 1997, the FAA and RSPA produced a video entitled "Ensuring Safety: Transporting Hazardous Materials By Air." This video provides a comprehensive overview of hazardous materials regulations specific to air transportation. The video is being distributed to FAA regional dangerous goods and cargo security program offices as part of an outreach effort to educate and inform air shippers, air carriers, repair stations, and air carriers on the proper preparation of hazardous materials for air transportation. A plan is in place to ensure that each operator has viewed the material in this video. I have enclosed a copy of the video for the Board's information. The FAA and RSPA are developing a training module, which will augment U.S. Department of Transportation Hazmat Training Modules, to provide a basic understanding of the hazardous materials regulations to air shippers and carriers. The FAA also participates in RSPA's Intermodal Transportation of Hazardous Materials Recurrency Seminar, which is held several times a year in various locations around the country. These seminars offer enhanced instruction for recurrent hazardous materials training of air shippers and carriers. I will keep the Board informed of the FAA's progress on this safety recommendation.
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