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Polis, Perlmutter Push for Crash-Resistant Helicopter Fuel Systems
Letter follows tragic Flight for Life helicopter crash over summer
Reps. Jared Polis (CO-2) and Ed Perlmutter (CO-7) today sent a letter pushing the Federal Aviation Association (FAA) to move quickly and efficiently to revise its safety regulations regarding crash-resistant fuel systems for civil helicopters.
Today’s letter comes in the wake of a tragic Flight for Life helicopter crash that occurred in Frisco, Colorado over the summer, killing Pilot Patrick Mahany and critically injuring two flight nurses. While the crash itself appeared to be survivable, the resulting fire likely led to Mahany’s death and the nurses’ critical injuries, which included severe burns. Although the Airbus AS350 was less than a year old, it was not equipped with the crash-resistant fuel systems mandated by the FAA in 1994.
Last month, the FAA announced that it would look more closely at the regulations surrounding crash-resistant fuel systems. Today’s letter urges the FAA to do so quickly and efficiently.
“On behalf of Mr. Mahany, his family, and his critically injured colleagues, we would like to…express our support for the FAA’s willingness to move forward with its implementation,” the letter states. “We, however, feel it is critical that the FAA act with expediency.”
“Rulemakings often take years, and while diligence is important to this process it is also imperative we begin addressing these needless deaths immediately. As members of the Colorado delegation, we respectfully request your full commitment to moving this through particular rulemaking, while maintaining all integrity and safety, as quickly as possible.”
In July, the National Transportation Security Board (NTSB) recommended to the FAA that crash-resistant fuel systems be a requirement for all civil rotorcrafts. Currently, a loophole exists that exempts newly-manufactured helicopters from having crash-resistant fuel systems, if their model was created before 1994. While the Flight for Life helicopter that crashed over the summer in Frisco was less than a year old, it was made from a model that was created before 1994 and therefore did not have to be equipped with a crash-resistant fuel system.