The Federal Aviation Administration has proposed that airline flight crews be provided with portable oxygen masks and goggles to help fight cabin fires and aid passengers in a fire emergency.
The proposed rule also would require flight attendants and other crew members to receive increased training in containing a cabin fire.
The proposal comes more than two years after a fire aboard an Air Canada jetliner claimed 23 lives and a dozen years after the National Transportation Safety Board first urged that the FAA require portable oxygen masks for crew members in jetliners.
The NTSB recommendation came after a 1973 fire aboard a Varig Airlines Boeing 707 outside Paris claimed 124 lives.
Under the proposed regulation, airlines would have to install a portable oxygen supply, mask and goggles within three feet of each hand-held fire extinguisher in the cabin and cockpit as well as in any cargo area where the crew has access. Pilots and copilots already have oxygen masks and goggles in the cockpit.
The proposed requirement also calls for flight crews to undergo training with fire extinguishers, including at least one drill in which crew members battle an actual fire with a hand-held extinguisher. Flight attendants have complained that current training often consists of little more than becoming familiar with the extinguisher with no attempt to confront an actual fire and in some cases not even discharging the extinguisher. Marine Radio Beacons
The Coast Guard plans to ask Congress to require emergency radio beacons on all commercial fishing vessels so they can be more easily located in an accident.
The National Transportation Safety Board for years has urged that such radio beacons be required on fishing vessels, but the fishing industry has resisted. The beacons, which transmit a signal even after a vessel sinks, can help locate the scene of a marine accident and survivors, safety experts say.
The safety board reiterated its call for the beacons last summer in a report on the sinking of the Amazing Grace, a fishing vessel that disappeared and was presumed to have sunk in a storm off the mid-Atlantic Coast.
The National Federation of Fishermen has encouraged the voluntary use of emergency beacons, but is opposed to a law requiring the devices.