February 2007

FAA Proposes Rule Concerning Security Related Considerations in the Design and Operation of Transport Category Airplanes

Holland & Knight Newsletter
Marc L. Antonecchia

The FAA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) January 5, 2007, to amend 14 CFR Parts 25 and 121. The proposed rules would primarily affect manufacturers of Part 25 newly designed passenger aircraft by enhancing design standards for protection of the cabin, flightdeck and cargo compartments from explosives, projectiles and unauthorized intrusion. It would also require operators of existing aircraft to establish a “least risk bomb location.” The adoption of these rules would remove current differences with standards promulgated by the International Civil Aviation Organization during the 1990s and extend the requirements of the 2002 rule requiring the strengthening of flightdeck doors to include all barriers between the flightdeck and other occupied areas.

The NPRM notes that the FAA has analyzed the potential for terrorism based on the use and size of aircraft. Believing there is a greater possibility that an explosive or incendiary device would be placed on commercial aircraft involving passenger transport or cargo operations, the FAA determined that most of the proposed rules should apply to commercial aircraft with a certificated passenger seating capacity of more than 60 persons or a maximum certificated gross takeoff weight of over 100,000 pounds (referred to herein as “60/100,000 aircraft”). One rule pertaining to protection of the flightcrew compartment, however, would apply to all commercial aircraft regardless of size. None of the proposed rules extend to aircraft in private use because the FAA believes that such aircraft are typically not targets of terrorism. In conjunction with the NPRM, the FAA is issuing six new proposed Advisory Circulars (ACs) and has proposed changes to two other ACs to describe acceptable means of complying with the proposed rules.

Summary of Proposed Rules

The NPRM contemplates changes or enhancements in six areas:

(1) Protection of Flightcrew Compartment: Applicable to all aircraft required by operating rules to have a flightdeck door, the proposed changes to §§ 25.795(a)(1)-(3) would extend current requirements for the design of the strengthened flightdeck door to other accessible barriers susceptible to forcible intrusion. These barriers would need to withstand impact of 300 joules (221.3 foot-pounds). In addition, all barriers (including floors and ceilings) between the flightdeck and other occupied areas would require protection from penetration by projectiles.

(2) Smoke and Fire Safety: Applicable to 60/100,000 aircraft, the proposed §§ 25.795(b)(1)-(2) would require the design of the flightdeck to limit penetration of smoke, fumes, or noxious gases generated by explosives, incendiary devices, or fires elsewhere on the aircraft. The rule would also require means to prevent passenger incapacitation in the cabin arising from escalated levels of carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.

(3) Fire Suppression in Cargo Compartments: Applicable to 60/100,000 aircraft, the proposed § 25.795(b)(3) would require a fire suppression system utilizing an extinguishing agent capable of suppressing a sudden and extensive fire in the cargo compartment. The fire suppression system would be required to withstand certain levels of explosive impact.

(4) Least Risk Bomb Location: Applicable to 60/100,000 aircraft, the proposed § 25.795(c)(1) would require the identification of a “least risk bomb location” (LRBL) in the cabin during the aircraft design process. The LRBL would be a location where an explosive device would cause the least amount of damage in the event of an explosion. For existing aircraft, proposed § 121.295 provides that an LRBL be identified within one year of the rule implementation.

(5) System Safety: Applicable to 60/100,000 aircraft, proposed § 25.795(c)(2) would require the separation of redundant flight critical systems through the application of a spherical formula that determines the volume of the aircraft and placement of systems within.

(6) Interior Security: Applicable to 60/100,000 aircraft, proposed § 25.795(c)(3) would require that the interior design of an aircraft deter the easy concealment of weapons, explosives, or other devices. The rule would require that stowage bins be designed to prevent the hiding of objects from view; toilets be designed to prevent the passage of solid objects greater than two inches in diameter; and life preservers or their storage location be designed so that tampering is evident.

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