In-Flight Fire - Aerospatiale Twinstar (Helicopter)-Fairview, Alberta 10 nm E - 28 April 1999

Safety Action Taken
(as presented in the TSB Report)

The operator took the following actions since this occurrence:

  • all aviation staff members were briefed, emphasizing the importance of conducting all Daily Operating Checks, as specified in the AFM;
  • all pyrotechnics carried in survival kits on board the operator's Twinstar fleet were removed and replaced with an updated product;
  • all pyrotechnics in company survival kits are stored in a suitable container; and,
  • all pyrotechnics on the merging operator's Bell 206 fleet were checked to ensure that they were not outdated and that they were stored in accordance with the operational specification.

Transport Canada published, in Aviation Safety Maintainer (Issue 4/99), Floating Battery Cable Fire Hazard, an article in which risks and hazards associated with this occurrence were identified.

Safety Action Required
(as presented in the TSB Report)

Packaging Standards

The survival and emergency equipment carried on board the helicopter included a five-person survival shelter and an emergency survival kit that contained emergency flares. The bags that housed the survival and emergency equipment were made of flammable nylon; the bags were not required to be flame-resistant. During testing, the bag materials ignited quickly, melted, dripped, and were totally destroyed by fire. The highly combustible nature of this packaging material contributed to the severity of this occurrence by providing a ready source of fuel in the face of the arcing event. In addition, survival equipment transported in flammable packaging reduces the likelihood that this equipment will be available for its intended purpose.

The survival kits in each of the four company helicopters contained two hand-held, marine-type, parachute flares and four day/night smoke flares. All flares on board the accident helicopter had ignited and discharged during the fire. The flares are classified as 1.2G and 1.4G explosives. Materials classified as 1.2G explosives are forbidden to be shipped on cargo and passenger aircraft under International Air Transport Association (IATA) dangerous goods regulations. Goods classified as 1.4G explosives can be shipped on cargo aircraft, provided that they are packaged in accordance with the appropriate packaging instructions. The emergency flares in two of the three survival bags in the company sister ships were packaged in crumpled newspaper to prevent abrasion. IATA Dangerous Goods Packing Instruction 905 requires signal devices transported as dangerous goods to be packaged in plastic or fibreboard inner containers. Current dangerous goods regulations do not apply to products that are necessary for the safety of the persons on board the means of transport. Any condition that unnecessarily increases the potential for the initiation or propagation of a fire on board an aircraft is hazardous, putting passengers and crew at risk. Therefore the Board recommends that:

The Department of Transport ensure that air operators store aircraft survival gear on aircraft in flame-resistant material and package emergency pyrotechnics and other highly flammable survival equipment at least to the standards required by International Air Transport Association (IATA) Dangerous Goods Regulations. (A00-13)

Transport Canada's Response:

Transport Canada agrees with the intent of the Recommendation which is to ensure the likelihood that survival equipment will be available after an accident for the intended purposes and to reduce the potential for this equipment to initiate or propagate a fire on board an aircraft.

Transport Canada will proceed with the development and distribution of a Commercial & Business Aviation Advisory Circular (CBAAC) incorporating the TSB recommendation to store flares in survival equipment to International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) Technical Instruction packing standards. A Notice of Proposed Amendment (NPA) to the Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) will also be prepared. The NPA will be submitted to the Part VI Technical Committee of the Canadian Aviation Regulation Advisory Council (CARAC) for consultation with stakeholders by June 2001.

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