Seven months after its fatal Boeing 747-400F fire, freight operator UPS is to fit a system to its fleet which enables pilots to see their cockpit instruments in the event of smoke.

The Emergency Vision Assurance System essentially comprises an inflatable transparent bubble, pressurised with filtered cockpit air, which overlays the instrument panel and provides a smoke-free viewing window.

Installation will begin on UPS' Boeing 767s and subsequently on the 747-400 and MD-11 fleet, the "primary over-water aircraft", says the carrier.

"Full fleet equipage will be a multi-year process as the company works to obtain proper certifications and cycle aircraft through modification," it adds.

Two UPS pilots were killed in the 3 September 2010 crash after the 747's cockpit filled with smoke in cruise, rendering the instruments unreadable as the crew attempted to return to Dubai.

UPS says it is fitting the vision system following a recommendation from a joint safety task force comprising representatives of the carrier and the Independent Pilots Association. "This new equipment will add yet another layer of safety," says UPS Airlines president Mitch Nichols.


VisionSafe manufactures the system. It claims the process of deployment in an emergency takes 15-20s and says the equipment is independently powered with "virtually no installation" required.

Safety task force member Capt Bob Brown says the system is "an important step forward" and that the carrier and the pilots' association have "mobilised quickly to research and recommend fire-safety enhancements".

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news