About 0554 eastern daylight time, on September 5, 1996, a Douglas DC-10-10CF, N68055, operated by the Federal Express Corporation as flight 1406, made an emergency landing at Stewart International Airport, Newburgh, New York, after the flightcrew determined that there was smoke in the cabin cargo compartment. The flight was operating under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 as a cargo flight from Memphis, Tennessee, to Boston, Massachusetts. Three crewmembers and two nonrevenue passengers were aboard the airplane. The captain and flight engineer sustained minor injuries while evacuating the airplane. The airplane was destroyed by fire after the landing.
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was an in-flight cargo fire of undetermined origin.
Safety issues discussed in this report include flightcrew performance of emergency procedures, undeclared hazardous materials in transportation, dissemination of hazardous materials information, airport emergency response, and adequacy of aircraft interior firefighting methods. Safety recommendations concerning these issues were made to the Federal Aviation Administration, the Department of Transportation, and the Research and Special Programs Administration.
As a result of the investigation of this accident, the National Transportation Safety Board makes the following recommendations:
To the Department of Transportation:
Require, within 2 years, that a person offering any shipment for air transportation provide written responses, on shipping papers, to inquiries about hazardous characteristics of the shipment, and develop other procedures and technologies to improve the detection of undeclared hazardous materials offered for transportation. (A-98-71)
To the Federal Aviation Administration:
Require the principal operations inspector for Federal Express (FedEx) to review the crew's actions on the accident flight and evaluate those actions in the context of FedEx emergency procedures and training (including procedures and training in crew resource management) to determine whether any changes are required in FedEx procedures and training. (A-98-72)
Require Federal Express to modify its evacuation checklist and training to emphasize the availability of protective breathing equipment during evacuations in an environment containing smoke, fire, or toxic fumes. (A-98-73)
Require all Part 121 operators of airplanes that rely on air pressure to open exit doors to make crewmembers aware of the circumstances of this accident and remind them of the need to ensure that the airplane is depressurized before attempting to open the passenger exit doors in an emergency. (A-98-74)
Require, within 2 years, that air carriers transporting hazardous materials have the means, 24 hours per day, to quickly retrieve and provide consolidated, specific information about the identity (including proper shipping name), hazard class, quantity, number of packages, and location of all hazardous materials on an airplane in a timely manner to emergency responders. (A-98-75)
Require the principal operations inspector for Federal Express (FedEx) to ensure that all FedEx employees who may communicate with emergency responders about a transportation accident involving hazardous materials understand that they should provide those emergency responders with any available information about hazardous materials that may be involved. (A-98-76)
Require all certificated airports to coordinate with appropriate fire departments, and all State and local agencies that might become involved in responding to an aviation accident involving hazardous materials, to develop and implement a hazardous materials response plan for the airport that specifies the responsibility of each participating local, regional, and State agency, and addresses the dissemination of information about the hazardous materials involved. Such plans should take into consideration the types of hazardous materials incidents that could occur at the airport based on the potential types and sources of hazardous materials passing through the airport. Airports should also be required to coordinate the scheduling of joint exercises to test these hazardous materials emergency plans. (A-98-77)
Reexamine the feasibility of on-board airplane cabin interior fire extinguishing systems for airplanes operating under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 and, if found feasible, require the use of such systems. (A-98-78)
Review the aircraft cabin interior firefighting policies, tactics, and procedures currently in use, and take action to develop and implement improvements in firefighter training and equipment to enable firefighters to extinguish aircraft interior fires more rapidly. (A-98-79)
To the Research and Special Programs Administration:
Require, within 2 years, that air carriers transporting hazardous materials have the means, 24 hours per day, to quickly retrieve and provide consolidated specific information about the identity (including proper shipping name), hazard class, quantity, number of packages, and location of all hazardous materials on an airplane in a timely manner to emergency responders. (A-98-80)
Additionally, the Safety Board reiterates the following recommendations to the FAA:
Issue guidance to air carrier pilots about the need to don oxygen mask and smoke goggles at the first indication of a possible in-flight smoke or fire emergency. (A-97-58)
Establish a performance standard for the rapid donning of smoke goggles; then ensure that all air carriers meet this standard through improved smoke goggle equipment, improved training, or both. (A-97-59)