(photo courtesy Leon Hammack)
As an addition to the article that I wrote about my “enlightening experience”, I have been sent some additional information that might make all the airline crews and passengers say,“HHHMMM“!
This from the Chicago Tribune/ Business:
It seems that the Federal aviation officials have known for years that the B-757/767 window heaters can catch fire. But they haven’t required the airlines to fix the problem, even after there have been dozens of incidents that have unnerved pilots, and in many cases forced emergency landings.
Pilots have complained about heaters that burned, smoldered or sent electric currents dancing across cockpit windows since at least 2002, according to an Associated Press search of a NASA aviation safety database.
None of the reported incidents was deadly, but they were scary. Sometimes, flames would reappear after flight crews had blasted them with fire extinguishers. In many cases, the window heater would cause an inside ply of windshield to shatter into spidery cracks that obstructed pilots’ view. Sometimes, pilots and instrument panels were sprayed with glass.
Pilots reported having to remove their oxygen masks in smoky cockpits in order to reach circuit breakers or grab fire extinguishers.
The National Transportation Safety Board has prodded the Federal Aviation Administration to make airlines fix the problem, concerned that a major accident could happen if nothing is done. The FAA has yet to mandate the repairs, although it has promised the NTSB since 2004 that it would.
“There is no shortage of information. In fact, there’s no shortage of incidents,” NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said in an interview. “What’s missing is the will to do something about it.”
The FAA did propose a safety fix in March 2008, two months after heavy smoke filled the cockpit of an American Airlines 757 flying from Puerto Rico to Philadelphia. The flight was diverted to Palm Beach, Fla., while terrified passengers were instructed on procedures for a rough ground or ocean landing.
“It was absolutely horrifying. There’s no other way to describe it,” said Rebekah Conrad, 23, who was among two dozen students who held hands, sang hymns and prayed through the ordeal.
More than two years later, the FAA’s safety fix still is not final. The regulator promised to expedite it after a cockpit fire last month forced a United Airlines 757 to make an emergency landing at Washington Dulles International Airport. In that incident, United pilots emptied one fire extinguisher on the flames, and sent a flight attendant for a second extinguisher after the fire reignited. (The United Airlines B-757 was my episode!)
Here is another link to show that there have been numerous incidents that were caused by the same known culprit over the last five years!
The wiring harness into the window heaters have been known for many years to be defective of sorts. When will the FAA require the airline to fix this problem? How catastrophic must it be? Do you feel safe knowing that the FAA is watching out for your safety like this?