Michael Gubisch/London

US freight giant UPS is retrofitting its fleet of Boeing aircraft with full-face oxygen masks with integrated smoke goggles, reinforcing fire protection following the fatal crash of a freighter last year.

Over the next 24 months, the company will introduce the safety equipment to its 747-400s, 757s, 767s and MD-11s. The jets currently carry separate oxygen masks and smoke goggles.

UPS's Airbus A300 fleet is already equipped with integrated masks.

UPS - (c) Joe G Walker 
 © Joe G Walker
 UPS will introduce the safety equipment over the next two years

Two UPS pilots were killed in September last year as they attempted to return to Dubai, after fire broke out on board a UPS 747-400, but lost control of the aircraft during the approach.

UPS has already agreed to fit an emergency vision system which is designed to improve the view of instruments through smoke.

The carrier's 747-400 and MD-11 fleets will be the first to receive the new masks, manufactured by Zodiac Aerospace, after a joint safety task force - comprising UPS and the Independent Pilots Association - recommended the measure.

UPS said the one-piece facemasks can be put on with one hand in just 3s, five times faster than a separate oxygen mask and goggles, and are easier to use for pilots wearing glasses.

"These facemasks will be an important inclusion in our cockpit safety environment," said task force member Capt Bob Brown, adding that UPS and the cockpit association were "very much in sync on flight safety".

Source: Flight International