CO Congressmen: FAA needs to act quicker to avoid fiery crashes

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Washington, DC, February 11, 2016 | comments

Content originally published by 9news on February 11th, 2016.

KUSA – A pair of Colorado congressmen plan to introduce legislation Friday that would urge the Federal Aviation Administration to require all newly built helicopters to have crash resistant fuel systems by the end of the year.
The news follows a lengthy 9Wants to Know investigation into a fiery Flight for Life crash in Frisco that left a Colorado flight nurse with catastrophic and life-threatening burns on most of his body.
Seconds after the AS-350 B3e crashed on July 3, 2015, fuel leaking from the helicopter’s plastic tanks erupted into a wall of flames. Video exclusively obtained by 9NEWS shows fuel pouring out of the helicopter six seconds after impact. The helicopter, as explained in numerous 9Wants to Know reports, was new, but the fuel system relied on federal standards put in place when the FAA first certified the AS-350 model in the late 70s.
The FAA did eventually require crash-resistant fuel systems on all newly certified helicopters in 1994, but the move left open what Congressman Jared Polis (D-Colorado) told 9NEWS was loophole because it didn’t require the systems on newly manufactured helicopters.
The National Transportation Safety Board believes 4,700 helicopters have been built since then that do not have crashworthy fuel systems onboard.
The military has required crashworthy fuel systems since the mid-70s on all of its helicopters.  
Friday, Rep. Polis will join with Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Colorado) in introducing the “Helicopter Fuel System Safety Act.”  
“We need to get this done now because we’ve known about this safety issue for decades, yet we continue to allow new helicopters to be manufactured without crash resistant fuel systems. That’s why I’m urging the FAA to act with expediency to ensure all newly manufactured helicopters meet the appropriate safety standards and prevent needless injuries or deaths,” said Rep. Perlmutter in a written statement.

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