Many of the people who died in a fiery runway collision last week could have been saved if the Federal Aviation Administration had held the airline industry to the same standards the Fire Department does in regulating fire safety in buildings, Fire Chief Donald Manning said Thursday.
Manning accused the FAA of having an "extremely poor attitude" toward passenger safety, suggesting the agency buckled under pressure from the airline industry by not requiring tougher regulations.State-of-the-art materials exist that could have slowed the spread of the fire that erupted inside a USAir Boeing 737 after it collided with a SkyWest commuter plane Feb. 1 at International Airport, providing valuable seconds for more passengers to escape the burning aircraft, he said.
"We have a situation inside that aircraft that is a great deal more flammable, that has a much poorer exiting capability than we will allow any structure under any building or fire code," Manning said. "Is that the way we want it?"
At a City Hall news conference, Mayor Tom Bradley echoed Manning's comments and joined the fire chief in calling for a task force of experts to investigate how to improve safety standards for aircraft interiors.
Although a majority of the USAir passengers were able to evacuate the plane, many did not have enough time to get out before they were overcome by smoke and flame.