Opinions Mixed on Cockpit Smoke Removal

 - June 10, 2013, 1:55 PM

Prompted by a provision of the 2012 FAA Modernization and Reform Act, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its review of the FAA’s progress on cockpit smoke removal on May 26. The GAO investigated dense smoke evacuation, protective breathing equipment for flight crews, pilot training on emergency procedures, development of checklists to respond to smoke in the cockpit and the use of emergency visual assurance systems (EVAS).

“The stakeholders we interviewed generally agree that the FAA’s oversight of protective breathing equipment, pilot training and cockpit checklists is effective,” said the report.

However, the FAA’s action on the oversight of procedures for evacuation of dense smoke from the cockpit and the use of EVAS elicited mixed reviews. Those interviews by the GAO revealed “some stakeholders–including the manufacturer of EVAS–said that the FAA should start requiring manufacturers to (1) demonstrate the capability to evacuate dense, continuous smoke from the cockpit or (2) install a device such as EVAS that would enable the pilot to continue to navigate the airplane with dense, continuous smoke in the cockpit.” Other stakeholders, however, claimed the action is unnecessary since smoke in the cockpit occurs so infrequently that “the FAA’s oversight is sufficient. There’s little rationale for mandating the installation of EVAS.”

The crew of an Icelandair Boeing 757 encountered considerable cockpit smoke after a fuel pump failure just after takeoff from Paris in June 2009 but managed a successful emergency landing at London Gatwick Airport.