Researchers at the US Federal Aviation Administration are canvassing industry for makers of vehicles, equipment and technologies that firefighters could use to rescue passengers or provide an escape route from the second level of a double-deck aircraft such as the Airbus A380 or Boeing 747-8.

In a request for information issued by the agency's Airport Technology Research and Development group, officials note that traditional ground ladders used for such purposes "can be dangerous to climb, extremely difficult to secure to the airplane, require multiple firefighters 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 firefighting 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 firefighter access and passenger evacuation for new large aircraft, including the A380 and 747-8.

Airbus A380 
 © Airbus

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

Companies whose submissions are found to be "technically sound" may be requested to participate evaluations at the agency's new large aircraft fire-test site at Tyndall AFB in Florida, says the agency.

Source: Flight International