Perlmutter, Polis Continue to Demand Higher Safety Standards for Helicopters

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Washington, D.C.-, September 27, 2017 | comments

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Reps. Ed Perlmutter (CO-07) and Jared Polis (CO-02) continued their efforts to demand higher safety standards for helicopters by offering an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization package that would require all new helicopters to be equipped with safer fuel systems. Unfortunately, House Republicans refused to allow a vote on the amendment as part of the six-month extension to the FAA reauthorization. 

“We have known for decades how to make helicopter fuel systems safer, yet we continue to allow new helicopters to be manufactured with outdated fuel systems,” said Perlmutter. “This legislation would ensure all newly manufactured helicopters meet updated safety standards to prevent needless injury or death.  It’s time to get this done.”

"I remember the pain our community felt after the Flight for Life crash in Frisco, and that memory drives me to persist until we finally have strong safety standards for all helicopters. We know now that the loss of life could have been avoided if only the helicopter had a safe fuel system, and with this knowledge, we have a responsibility to act swiftly to save lives," said Polis.

Perlmutter and Polis re-introduced stand-alone legislation earlier this year, the Helicopter Fuel System Safety Act, which would require the FAA to install safer fuel systems in newly manufactured helicopters. The pair first introduced the legislation after the July 2015 Flight for Life crash in Frisco, Colorado.

Military helicopters have been built using crash-resistant fuel systems dating back to the 1970s. However, the FAA’s 1994 fuel system standards only require new helicopter designs certified after 1994 comply with these standards. As a result of this loophole, over 4,700 helicopters have been built since 1994 and only 15% of those have been built with crash-resistant fuel systems. There have been at least 173 post-crash fires resulting in 78 deaths due to those fires since the standard was published in 1994. 

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