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Safety Recommendation Details

Safety Recommendation A-10-121
Details
Synopsis: On March 22, 2009, about 1430 mountain daylight time, a Pilatus PC-12/45, N128CM, was diverting to Bert Mooney Airport (BTM), Butte, Montana, when it descended and impacted the ground near the approach end of runway 33 at BTM. The airplane was owned by Eagle Cap Leasing of Enterprise, Oregon, and was operating as a personal flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The pilot and the 13 airplane passengers were killed, and the airplane was destroyed by impact forces and a postcrash fire. The flight departed Oroville Municipal Airport, Oroville, California, at 1210 on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan with a destination of Gallatin Field, Bozeman, Montana. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident.
Recommendation: TO THE FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION: Amend 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 to require separate seats and restraints for every occupant.
Original recommendation transmittal letter: PDF
Overall Status: Closed - Unacceptable Action
Mode: Aviation
Location: Butte, MT, United States
Is Reiterated: No
Is Hazmat: No
Is NPRM: No
Accident #: WPR09MA159
Accident Reports: Loss of Control While Maneuvering Pilatus PC-12/45, N128CM
Report #: AAR-11-05
Accident Date: 3/22/2009
Issue Date: 8/11/2010
Date Closed: 2/21/2014
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status: FAA (Closed - Unacceptable Action)
Keyword(s): Child Restraint Systems,

Safety Recommendation History
From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 2/21/2014
Response: On June 23, 2011, you published a notice of proposed clarification of prior interpretations regarding the seat belt and seating requirements of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Section 91.107(a)(3), which states that the shared use of a single restraint may be permissible, but the use of a seat belt and/or seat by more than one occupant is appropriate only if the seat belt is approved and rated for such use, the structural strength requirements for the seat are not exceeded, and the seat usage conforms to the limitations in the approved portion of the airplane flight manual. Our August 22, 2011, comments about this notice stated that we were disappointed that the proposed clarification did not discourage or prohibit the unsafe practice of allowing multiple occupants to share a seat and/or restraint system, that it did not provide clear guidance to general aviation pilots regarding seat belt and seating requirements, and that the clarification could be misinterpreted regarding the use of shoulder restraints. On May 24, 2012, you published the clarification, emphasizing that, whenever possible, each person onboard an aircraft should voluntarily be seated in a separate seat and be restrained by a separate seat belt. However, the clarification allows for multiple occupants to use the same seat belt and/or seat, if the seat usage conforms to the limitations contained in the airplane flight manual. In the final notice, you rejected our recommended actions because a clarification cannot change existing regulations and because satisfying Safety Recommendation A-10-121 would require revising the regulations. In your recent letter, you stated that such rulemaking is not cost beneficial and you do not plan any further action in response to this recommendation. Consequently, Safety Recommendation A-10-121 is classified CLOSED—UNACCEPTABLE ACTION.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 12/24/2013
Response: -From Michael P. Huerta, Administrator: While the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does not plan to specifically require separate seat and restraint usage for each occupant, we published a Clarification of Prior Interpretations of the Seat Belt and Seating Requirements for General Aviation Flights on May 24, 2012 (77 FR 30885). This clarification emphasizes that, because it is safer to reach individual person to have his or her own seat and seat belt, whenever possible, each person onboard an aircraft should voluntarily be seated in a separate seat and be restrained by a separate seat belt. However, it is permissible for multiple occupants to use the same seat belt and/or seat, if the seat usage conforms to the limitations contained in the approved port ion of the Airplane Flight Manual, and certain conditions are met. The f AA believes this Clarification of Prior Interpretation is an effective tool to enhance safety. However, a rulemaking to require this is not considered cost beneficial and we do not plan a rulemaking action. Therefore, we plan no further action in response to this recommendation.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 8/22/2011
Response: Notation 8339: The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has reviewed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) notice of proposed clarification of prior interpretations, titled "Clarification of Prior Interpretations of the Seat Belt and Seating Requirements for General Aviation Flights," which was published at 76 Federal Register 121 on June 23, 2011. This notice proposes to clarify prior interpretations of the seat belt and seating requirements of 14 Code o/Federal Regulations (CFR) 91.107(a)(3), which state that the shared use of a single restraint may be permissible. The proposed clarification states that the use of a seat belt and/or seat by more than one occupant is appropriate only if the seat belt is approved and rated for such use, the structural strength requirements for the seat are not exceeded, and the seat usage conforms to the limitations in the approved portion of the airplane flight manual. The proposed clarification also emphasizes that the proper restraint method for children during Part 91 operations relies on the good judgment of the pilot, who should be intimately aware of the capabilities and structural requirements of the aircraft. As a result of the March 22, 2009, accident in Butte, Montana,] involving a Part 91 flight in which the number of passengers exceeded the number of available seats (with some children likely not restrained or improperly restrained), the NTSB issued Safety Recommendation A-10-l21 to the FAA to "amend 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 to require separate seats and restraints for every occupant." Although the proposed clarification may limit the number of occupants who share a seat and restraint system in some airplanes, the practice of allowing multiple occupants to share the same seat or restraint is still permissible and may continue. Based on this proposed clarification, the NTSB classified Safety Recommendation A-10-121 "Open-Unacceptable Response" on July 12, 2011. The NTSB also issued Safety Recommendation A-I0-122, which asked the FAA to "amend 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 to require each person who is less than 2 years of age to be restrained in a separate seat position by an appropriate child restraint system during takeoff, landing, and turbulence") The NTSB believes that, until 14 CFR Part 91 is amended to require separate seats and restraints for every occupant, the interpretation of section 91.1 07(a)(3) should discourage the unsafe practice of allowing multiple occupants to share a seat and/or restraint system that are not certified for more than one occupant. In addition, the NTSB believes that this proposed clarification does not provide clear guidance to general aviation pilots and could create more confusion than clarification. The document places an undue burden of interpreting rules and guidance on those pilots. While the proposed clarification indicates that the pilot "should be intimately aware of the capabilities and structural requirements of the aircraft that he or she is operating" and that "the proper restraint method for children during operations conducted under part 91 relies on the good judgment of the pilot," the FAA does not require that the aircraft capabilities and structural requirements be readily accessible, understandable, or common knowledge for the typical general aviation pilot. For instance, a general aviation pilot may not know what the structural strength and restraint requirements are for a seat because this information is typically not included in the airplane flight manual. Although the previous Interpretation 1990-14 4 restricted single-seat occupancy by imposing a 170-pound weight limitation for multiple occupancy of a single-occupancy seat, the proposed clarification provides less information and guidance. Further, although the FAA has separately encouraged the use of child restraints, this interpretation solely relies on the "good judgment" of the pilot. However, pilots will likely not realize the significant increase in risk for injury that is created when two or more small children or an adult and child are belted together; without the knowledge of the factors cited above, the pilot cannot make a rational and informed decision, and that "good judgment" may be based on information that the pilot does not have. In 1985, the FAA modified 14 CFR 91.33 to require shoulder harnesses in all seats of general aviation airplanes manufactured after December 12, 1986. The FAA has also encouraged the owners of general aviation airplanes to retrofit their aircraft with shoulder harnesses when feasible. As a result, since Interpretation 1990-14 was issued, the use of shoulder harnesses has increased. The NTSB believes that it is never appropriate for two occupants to share one shoulder restraint and that the proposed clarification may be misinterpreted to indicate that it is permissible under Part 91 to use a device (such as a shoulder restraint) in a manner not consistent with the conditions under which the device was certified and approved by the FAA. The NTSB is disappointed that the proposed clarification does not discourage or prohibit the unsafe practice of allowing multiple occupants to share a seat and/or restraint system, that it does not provide clear guidance to general aviation pilots regarding seat belt and seating requirements, and that the clarification could be misinterpreted regarding the use of shoulder restraints. The NTSB appreciates the opportunity to comment and encourages the FAA to revise its interpretation of 14 CFR 91.107(a)(3).

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 7/26/2011
Response: From the greensheet issuing Safety Recommendations A-11-70 through A-11-74 published on July 26, 2011 and addressed to the Federal Aviation Administration: As previously stated, Safety Recommendation A-10-121 asked the FAA to amend Part 91 to require separate seats and restraints for every occupant. The FAA’s proposal shows that the agency does not intend to amend the regulation. Title 14 CFR 121.311, “Seats, Safety Belts, and Shoulder Harnesses,” and 135.128, “Use of Safety Belts and Child Restraint Systems,” require separate seats and restraints for each passenger age 2 years and older. The addition of such a requirement to Part 91 regulations would help ensure the proper use of seating and restraint systems during this type of operation. The NTSB continues to believe that Part 91 regulations do not promote effective occupant protection because multiple occupants sharing one seat and restraint system are less likely than single occupants to withstand deceleration forces during a survivable crash. As a result, Safety Recommendation A-10-121 is classified OPEN—UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: NTSB
To: FAA
Date: 1/31/2011
Response: The NTSB eagerly awaits word from the FAA on the specific actions it will take in response to these recommendations after it has further reviewed them. We question the FAA about the following statement in the FAA’s letter: “Additionally, we are reviewing the studies cited by the Board in these recommendations to determine the most appropriate course of action with regard to recommendation A-10-122.” In the letter that transmitted these recommendations to the FAA, the only study referenced was “Dual Child Occupancy of an Aircraft Seat,” by Roger N. Hardy, describing testing conducted for the United Kingdom’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), CAA Paper 93013. While this study is very relevant to Safety Recommendation A-10-121, it has little relevance to Safety Recommendation A-10-122. The NTSB asks the FAA to clarify whether this is the study referenced in its letter and, if it is, how the FAA believes it relevant to the issue of properly restraining under-2-year-old passengers in a flight conducted under 14 CFR Part 91. Pending completion of the recommended actions, Safety Recommendations A-10-121 and -122 are classified OPEN—ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.

From: FAA
To: NTSB
Date: 10/14/2010
Response: CC# 201000392 - From J. Randolph Babbitt, Administrator: The Federal Aviation Administration is reviewing these recommendations to determine whether a revision of the current regulatory interpretation of 14 CFR section 91.107 is appropriate. Additionally, we are reviewing the studies cited by the Board in these recommendations to determine the most appropriate course of action with regard to recommendation A-10-122. We will keep the Board informed of our progress on safety recommendations A-10-12l and A-10-l22, and provide a further response by October 2011.