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Runway And Fuel Tank Safety Remain On NTSB's Watch

Concerns by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) about runway incursions, center wing fuel tank explosions and aircraft maneuvering speeds led the board to keep those issues on the its "most wanted" safety recommendations for 2003.

NTSB noted FAA plans to use an enhanced version of the Airport Surface Detection Equipment Model X (ASDE-X) with multilateration and display technology at 34 airports using the airport movement area safety system (AMASS), giving those airports improved surveillance of ground movements. FAA also told NTSB it is assessing technical aspects of four potential ground movement safety systems for airports not scheduled for ASDE-X or AMASS equipment. Two of the systems are ground markers and addressable signs. NTSB recommends putting systems in practice that ensure safe aircraft movement on the ground, and giving flight crews direct warning capabilities.

The board noted two of five recommendations it made between 1996 and 1998 relating to minimum maneuvering airspeeds are logged with "unacceptable responses." NTSB suggested that FAA ensure manufacturers of turbine engine aircraft clarify minimum safe operating speeds in both icing and non-icing conditions, and that carriers publish the information in pilot training and operating manuals.

FAA is working with Boeing to test a fuel tank inerting system designed to prevent fuel tank explosions, but the agency hasn't set a timeframe to certify the system (DAILY, July 31). NTSB urged the agency to complete a rulemaking to prevent operators from flying transport category aircraft with explosive fuel-air mixtures in fuel tanks.


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