A93Q0242-Cabin Fire - Northwest Airlines - Montreal International (Dorval) Airport -28 November 1993

Safety Action Taken 
(as presented in the TSB Report)

Joint Pilot/Cabin Crew Emergency Training

Northwest Airlines has indicated that, beginning in January 1995, joint training for pilots and flight attendants will be conducted during annual recurrent training. The training will focus on communications between the flight deck and cabin, and will include in-flight fire scenarios.

911 Communications During Airport Emergency Responses

Subsequent to this occurrence, the Centre d'Urgence established a new method of operation. Specifically, 911 operators have received directions on the amount and type of information to be collected prior to initiating emergency responses to local airports.

Unilingual Evacuation Instructions

Although not required by regulation, most Canadian air carriers endeavour to provide safety briefings in both official languages. Also, some foreign carriers routinely ensure that bilingual flight attendants are on aircraft serving Quebec airports to provide bilingual safety briefings during these flights.

In July 1994, the TSB forwarded an Aviation Safety Advisory to Transport Canada (TC) highlighting the potential for delayed and/or adverse reactions to unilingual emergency instructions by passengers who do not comprehend the language of instruction. In its response, TC indicated that, with the rewriting of the Canadian Aviation Regulations, safety briefings in both official languages will become a requirement under specified circumstances. Also, since the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has no established standard regarding the language of safety announcements, TC will address this issue with ICAO.

Safety Action Required
(as presented in the TSB Report)

Passenger Service Blanket Flammability

Passenger service blankets are carried on most large air carrier aircraft and are usually stored in the overhead bins in the cabin. In addition to using the blankets for passenger comfort, several Canadian air carrier Flight Attendant Manuals instruct flight attendants to use the blankets for smothering flames on a person's clothing or seat. As demonstrated by this incident and in TSB tests, some passenger service blankets have adverse flammability characteristics even though the blanket material passed the flammability test prescribed for cabin interior materials.

In May 1994, the TSB forwarded an Aviation Safety Advisory to TC and the Cabin Safety Standards section of the FAA indicating that passenger service blankets should meet an appropriate flammability standard and that TC might wish to advise Canadian air carriers that passenger service blankets may present a fire hazard. In July 1994, using TSB information from this occurrence, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that the FAA develop a fire performance test method and performance criteria (standard) for blankets supplied to commercial operators, then require those operators to use only those blankets that meet the standard (NTSB-A-94-131). At the same time, the NTSB also recommended that the Air Transport Association of America (ATA) warn association members about the flammability of blankets used for passenger comfort and urge members to replace these blankets with blankets containing more fire-resistant materials (NTSB-A-94-132).

In August 1994, the ATA response to the NTSB recommendation indicated that ATA had advised its members about the flammability of passenger service blankets. In January 1995, in response to the TSB Advisory, TC indicated that they would be reviewing the issue of blanket and pillow flammability with the FAA via an international working group and that it would be premature to advise carriers of the potential fire hazard prior to the completion of the working group's activities.

The Board understands that the international working group is considering issues such as types of fabric and flammability protection processes, effects of in-service use, and appropriateness of flammability standards. It is recognized that it may not be practical to disseminate information on these issues until discussed by the working group. However, considering how easily the folded blankets ignited and developed a molten polyester pool fire in both the occurrence and post-incident test, Canadian air carriers may wish to take interim measures based on their assessment of the hazard. Therefore, the Board recommends that:

The Department of Transport immediately advise Canadian air carriers about the potential flammability of some passenger service blankets. (A95-14)

Transport Canada's Response:

Transport Canada Aviation has developed an Air Carrier Advisory Circular (ACAC) which advises all commercial air carriers of the potential flammability of service blankets. The ACAC will be distributed to all commercial air carriers once finalized.

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