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NTSB recommends anti-collision aids for large aircraft

Sept. 7, 2012, Washington, D.C. - The U.S.National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has issued a safety call to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to equip large commercial aircraft with collision-avoidance equipment such as external cameras to provide pilots a clear view of the plane's wingtips.


September 7, 2012
Carey Fredericks

According to NTSB, the anti-ground collision aids should be installed on newly manufactured and certificated aircraft, while existing large airplanes should be retrofitted with them.

NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said a system offering real-time information on wingtip clearance with regard to other obstacles would provide large airplane pilots with an essential tool while taxiing.

"While collision warning systems are now common in highway vehicles, it is important for the aviation industry to consider their application in large aircraft," Hersman said.

The recommendations are meant for bigger aircraft such as the Boeing 747, 757, 767 and 777; the Airbus A380; and the McDonnell Douglas MD-10 and MD-11.

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Hersman wrote to FAA to say that cameras or other anti-collision aids would help pilots see wingtips without requiring them to open the cockpit window and extending their head out of the window, which is usually impractical.

The recommendations come in the wake of three recent ground collision accidents in which airplanes wings collided with other planes during taxiing.

On 30 May, the right wingtip of an EVA Air Boeing 747-400 struck the rudder and vertical stabiliser of an American Eagle Embraer 135 while taxiing at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport. Then on 14 July 2011, a Delta Air Lines Boeing 767 was taxiing for departure when its left winglet struck the horizontal stabiliser of an Atlantic Southeast Airlines Bombardier CRJ900.

And on 11 April 2011, during a taxi for departure, the left wingtip of an Air France A380 struck the horizontal stabiliser and rudder of a Comair Bombardier CRJ701.

FAA has a 90-day period to respond to the safety board's recommendation.
NTSB made similar recommendations to the European Aviation Safety Agency, which establishes standards for aircraft makers in Europe.