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Report: Planes still lack cargo smoke detectors

smoke detectors

May 7, 1997
Web posted at: 11:32 a.m. EDT (1532 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Airlines have failed to put smoke detectors in airline cargo holds five months after airline executives pledged to do so, USA Today reported Wednesday.

The paper said airlines are waiting until the Federal Aviation Administration decides whether to require stricter safety standards, possibly including fire suppression systems.

Airline officials told the paper that installing detectors now, only to replace them later, would be wasteful. "We'd like to skin this cat one time," said Mike Rioux of the Air Transport Association, which represents airlines.

The National Transportation Safety Board criticized the delay. It has pushed for the smoke detectors since 1988, when an American Airlines jet burned.

The delay "makes the public announcement meaningless, and that is regrettable," NTSB chairman Jim Hall told the paper.

Top executives from 16 major airlines told President Clinton and Vice President Gore on December 11 that installation of the detectors would not be slowed by the pending FAA ruling. According to USA Today, the executives agreed to install detectors in 3,000 of 4,400 passenger planes by early this year.

The FAA is expected to issue its new standards this summer. Airlines will then have months to respond in writing, and after that, they will be granted time to design their own system. In all, it takes two to three years to see changes driven by FAA rules, USA Today said.


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