FAA searches for specialised fire and rescue vehicles for large aircraft

Washington DC
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Researchers at the US FAA are canvassing industry for makers of vehicles, equipment and technologies that fire fighters could use to rescue passengers or provide an escape route from the second level of a double-deck aircraft like the Airbus A380 or Boeing 747-8.

In a request for information (RFI) issued by the agency's Airport Technology Research and Development group yesterday, officials note that traditional ground ladders used for such purposes "can be dangerous to climb, extremely difficult to secure to the airplane, require multiple fire fighters to set up and do not always reach the desired doorway exit."

While some airports do have "structural ladder trucks, sky lifts or air stairs" for such emergencies, the FAA says the vehicles "take time to deploy and were not intended" for aircraft rescue and fire fighting (ARFF) operations.

In the RFI, which is open until 31 October, the FAA says it is seeking information on vehicles, methods, or technologies that could provide both fire fighter access and passenger evacuation for new large aircraft (NLA), including the A380 and 747-8.

"Of particular interest are vehicles which can quickly deploy and be able to accommodate a variety of aircraft exit door orientations, including second level access," says the FAA.

Company's whose submissions are found to be "technically sound" may be requested to participate evaluations at the agency's NLA fire test site at Tyndall Air Force base in Florida, says the agency.