THE US FEDERAL Aviation Administration is reviewing recommendations designed to increase safety for US air-tour firms operating fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters.

The move follows recommendations from the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which resulted from an in-depth review of the 139 air-tour accidents or incidents since 1988. The NTSB recommends a national standard and database for air-tour operations and some equipment changes for tourist-carrying helicopters.

The NTSB also recommends that the FAA create by the end of this year a national standard for air-tour operations. It also advocates creating a database for such operators, to be used for accident evaluation.

Occupants of helicopters should be required to wear life vests during water over-flights, and helicopters equipped with inflatable flotation systems should have an activation switch located on one of the primary flight controls, investigators add.

The National Air Access Council, an air-tour group, supports most of the NTSB's recommendations, including a proposal that all air-tour operators conduct such tours under US Federal Aviation Regulations Part 135 criteria.

Source: Flight International