cargo carriers would have to install over the next two years traffic alert and
collision avoidance systems (TCAS) or similar safety devices on all freighters
weighing over 15 tonnes (33,000lb), under a new rule proposed today by the FAA.
agency currently only requires (TCAS) on passenger aircraft with more than ten
seats, leaving freighters of all sizes free to fly without the safety device,
but has been considering similar requirements for freighters for several years
at the urging of Congress and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).
the FAA’s support, Congress passed a law last year mandating TCAS on freighters.
But some carriers have received exemptions and extensions from the requirement.
Parcel Service, in particular, has avoided installing the safety device on most
of its fleet even as other major US cargo carriers have given up resisting public
pressure to install the device voluntarily and avoid what some safety experts
consider was an accident waiting to happen.
FedEx spokesman says all its international fleet and most of its domestic fleet
is now equipped with TCAS. He adds all remaining aircraft are scheduled to be
equipped with the device by the time the new FAA proposed requirement would go
into effect on 31 October 2003.
Airborne Express spokesman says only six of the airline’s freighters now have
TCAS but plans are in place to retrofit the rest of its fleet.
by the Cargo Airline Association (CAA), US cargo carriers lobbied for years
against a TCAS requirement. In recent years, the CAA has endorsed automatic dependent surveillance
broadcast (ADS-B) as an alternative technology. ADS-B is being developed
by UPS Aviation Technologies and UPS Airlines has held out against installing
TCAS in hopes ADS-B’s “enhanced see and avoid” function would win FAA approval
before TCAS was mandated.
FAA says its proposed rule “allows for systems equivalent to TCAS that the FAA
may approve in the future”. But it is unclear if ADS-B will meet this
definition or if the FAA will approve the device for use in all aircraft types
by the time the proposed rule would take effect in 2003.
Airlines and the CAA have argued that ADS-B is better suited for the future air
traffic environment and that installing TCAS technology now would be a waste of
money because it will soon be out of date.
new rule would apply to just about every freighter operated by mainline cargo
carriers. Some large regional freighters would also have to be retrofitted. For
example, in terms of maximum takeoff weight the Bombardier Dash 8 would be just
over and the Saab 340 would fall just under the proposed requirement.
FAA will accept comment on the proposed rule over the next 60 days and will
take into account any objections before making a final ruling. UPS and CAA
spokesmen were not available to comment.