Would Smoke Hoods Save Airline Passengers or Put Them at

F L I G HT S A F ETY F O U N D AT I O N
CABIN CREW SAFETY
Vol. 28 No. 6
Vol. 29 No. 1
For Everyone Concerned with the Safety of Flight
SPECIAL
DOUBLE
November/December 1993
January/February 1994
ISSUE
Getting Out Alive — Would Smoke Hoods Save
Airline Passengers or Put Them at Risk?
The debate about smoke hoods for passengers on commercial transport-category
aircraft began in the 1960s and is continuing today. Questions remain
about whether smoke hoods would make emergency evacuations
from burning aircraft safer or would cause deadly delays.
Editorial Staff Report
Aircraft cabin fires are rare, but their prospect is terrifying.
When they do occur, passengers often only have seconds to
escape a deadly brew of toxic fumes and acrid smoke.
“Nearly all aircraft accident fatalities that are not the result
of crash/impact injuries are the result of post-crash fires
and the inability to exit aircraft quickly, which in most
cases is attributed to incapacitation from toxic smoke, fumes
or injuries,”1 said Rudolf Kapustin, president of Intercontinental Aviation Safety Consultants. Kapustin, who was
investigator-in-charge of 47 major aviation accidents during 24 years with the U.S. Civil Aeronatics Board (CAB)
[the forerunner of the U.S. National Transportation Safety
Board (NTSB)], said that during the past 30 years, at least
250 transport-category aircraft accidents have involved fires.
In an aircraft fire — particularly one fed by aircraft fuel —
the air is filled with dense, black smoke with hot and
highly toxic gases, in addition to ash and debris that are
emitted by burning cabin components and baggage. Breathing
becomes difficult. Smoke and toxic gases often incapacitate passengers and crews before they can escape a burning
aircraft, and they are then asphyxiated.
Smoke hoods are protective head coverings that prevent
wearers from breathing the smoke, particulates and toxic
gases generated in a fire. Some smoke hoods filter the
contaminated air; the number of different gases filtered
and the effectiveness of the filtration varies among smoke
hoods. Other smoke hoods provide breathable oxygen from
a cylinder of compressed gas. Requiring smoke hoods as
standard equipment on passenger-carrying transportcategory aircraft has been a contentious and emotional
issue in the aviation community.
Opponents say that the donning of smoke hoods may cause
a slower emergency evacuation of an aircraft after an accident, thus causing a greater loss of life.
Proponents argue that while an emergency evacuation may
be slowed, ultimately passengers will be more likely to
survive the incapacitating smoke and toxic gases common
in an aircraft fire and the likelihood of their escape from
the aircraft will be enhanced. Proponents also argue that
donning smoke hoods should not be characterized as being
any more difficult than donning water-flotation lifejackets, which are carried on overwater flights.
Issues of cost and liability have also intensified the debate,
and questions have been raised about passenger briefings
and uniform standards for smoke hoods.
Thus far, no government agency has mandated smoke hoods
for passenger-carrying transport-category aircraft, in part,
say some proponents, because regulatory decisions
have been based on flawed research. Early smoke
FLIGHT SAFETY FOUNDATION • CABIN CREW SAFETY • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1993/JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1994
1
hoods, described in 1967 and 1970 reports by the U.S.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Office of Aviation
Medicine, had the appearance of plastic bags that passengers could pull down over their heads.2,3
After three decades of research and development, two
general types of smoke hoods have evolved in the marketplace: one has a self-contained source of breathable oxygen, and the other filters ambient air for breathing.
[Smoke hoods should not be confused with the protective
breathing equipment required “to protect the flight crew
from the effects of smoke, carbon dioxide and other harmful gases, or an oxygen-deficient environment ... and protect crew members from the above effects while fighting
fires on board the airplane.”4 U.S. Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) Part 121.337, issued in 1987 and amended
most recently in 1992, requires aircraft to have protective
breathing equipment that includes a portable supply of
breathable gas in easily accessible and convenient locations in cargo compartments, in passenger compartments and
on the flight deck. This equipment is for crew members only.
The emergency overhead oxygen-mask system is designed
to provide breathable oxygen to passengers during an inflight
depressurization of the aircraft. It is not designed to be
used during an aircraft fire.]
“Get up and get out – quickly,” is the current escape strategy behind emergency evacuations, which do not include
smoke hood use. FAR Part 121.291 requires that each
certificate holder must demonstrate an emergency evacuation after an aborted takeoff, without using more than 50
percent of the aircraft’s emergency exits, to show “that
each type and model of airplane with a seating capacity of
more than 44 passengers to be used in its passenger-carrying operations allows the evacuation of the full seating
capacity, including crew members, in 90 seconds or less.”5
The demonstration must be conducted in the “dark of
night” or in simulated darkness. Normal electrical power
is “deenergized” and a representative passenger load is
used.
“At least 30 percent of them must be females,” according to the regulation. “Five percent must be over 60
years old with a proportionate number of females. At
least five percent but not more than 10 percent must be
children under 12 years old. Three life-size dolls, not
included as part of the total passenger load, must be
carried by passengers to simulate live infants two years
old or younger. Crew members, mechanics and training
personnel, who maintain the airplane in the normal course
of their duties, may not be used as passengers.” [No mention of simulated smoke is made in the requirement.]
Safety Trainers Say There May Be a Place for
Smoke Hoods in Corporate Operations
There is no consensus about smoke hoods, even among
safety-training experts. Opinions range from “yes, they’re
great for any passenger” to “no, not everyone,” to “just get
off the plane.”
Kenneth Burton, president of Sea Tropic Arctic and Regional Knowledge (STARK) Survival, in Panama City, Fla.,
U.S., trains corporate flight crews and executives to survive in an aircraft emergency.
After Patrick Shannon, chief pilot for Hoechst Celanese
Corp., participated in Burton’s safety training, Shannon
decided to provide smoke hoods for the passengers on the
company’s two Canadair Challenger 600s, based in Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S. That was in the late 1980s.
“After we had Ken Burton in from STARK Survival [I
realized that] anything that could buy you seconds in getting out of an airplane [after an accident] could save your
life,” said Shannon.48
Shannon said that the smoke hoods on the company’s aircraft are kept with the water-flotation life-jackets under the
2
seats. He said that passengers are informed of the smoke
hoods’ locations during preflight safety briefings, but the
equipment is not demonstrated.
Shannon said that he encourages all of his regular passengers to attend Burton’s seminar, which is conducted periodically at Hoechst Celanese. He said that there is not a
company-wide policy that mandates attending Burton’s
seminars, but that many departments within the company
do mandate attendance. Shannon said that he relies on
passengers who have been trained to use smoke hoods to
assist those who have not been trained if there is an emergency.
Shannon said that participants in the company’s training
often ask him to order smoke hoods for their personal use
when they travel on commercial carriers or stay in hotels.
Burton said that executives who have taken his training
developed a positive attitude about smoke hoods.
Burton said that in training corporate executives who fly in
corporate aircraft, he briefs them before he places them
FLIGHT SAFETY FOUNDATION • CABIN CREW SAFETY • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1993/JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1994
The regulation details additional requirements aimed to
allow a realistic demonstration, but no one in the aviation
industry suggests that such a demonstration should mirror
the terror and confusion of a real-life evacuation from a
burning aircraft.
Researchers agree that in a fire, carbon monoxide, hydrogen cyanide and carbon dioxide, for example, are among
the many gases generated that affect the nervous and cardiovascular systems, which cause loss of consciousness
followed by death from asphyxiation.
Table 1
Toxic and Physical Hazards Analysis 6
Effects on a victim exposed to aircraft cabin fire conditions are predicted as follows:
1. From 10 seconds up to 2 minutes the concentrations of hydrogen chloride (HCl) and hydrogen flouride (HF)
[in the cabin] would be severely irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract, impeding escape attempts;
2. During the beginning of the third minute the concentrations of HC1 and HF would exceed the tenability
limit for sensory irritancy sufficiently to inhibit severely and possibly prevent escape;
3. At the end of the third minute the average [air] temperature would be 631 degrees F (333 degrees C), and
sufficient heat would be accumulated in the skin surface to cause skin burns resulting in incapacitation;
4. At the beginning of the fourth minute a victim is likely to lose consciousness due to the combined effects of
the accumulated doses of narcotic gases;
5. At the end of the fourth minute the tenability limit from visual obscuration is reached; and,
6. It is predicted that a victim escaping or rescued after the third minute would suffer severe post-exposure
effects due to skin burns, possible laryngeal burns with accompanying oedema [swelling] and danger of
obstructive asphyxia, and also pulmonary oedema and inflammation which might well be fatal (due to the
combined effects of inhaled hot gases, chemical irritants and the pulmonary secondary effects of skin
burns). After the fourth minute it is likely that a victim would die at some time between a few minutes and
one hour [later] because of the effects of narcosis, circulatory shock and possibly hyperthermia.
in a simulated emergency situation onboard the client’s
aircraft. For smoke and fire evacuation training, “I fill the
aircraft with [nontoxic theatrical] smoke so thick you can’t
see your hand in front of your face,” said Burton.49
“The smoke hood enhances your protection against the
residue — the ash — falling from the ceiling into your eyes
and nose,” he said.
Burton said that he carries a filtration-type smoke hood
with him when he flies on commercial aircraft. He added
that when fellow passengers see the smoke hood in his
pocket or briefcase, they usually ask him about it [the
smoke hood]. After he explains to them what the smoke
hood is and what it is supposed to do, he said, fellow
passengers usually respond positively, saying that they
believe carrying a personal smoke hood is a good idea.
“The fact is that most people have plenty of time to put on
a smoke hood because of the time it takes to get out of an
airplane,” he said. “It only seems to be the [regulatory]
authorities and the airlines who think smoke hoods would
take too long [for passengers to don them],” Burton said.50
He said that any expeditious exit depends on the passenger’s
knowledge; the passenger should know where the exits
are and how he or she will escape, if escape becomes
necessary.
“What it really comes down to is the cost factor and the
fear of litigation: What if someone puts it [a smoke hood]
on and suffocates?” said Burton.
Whether passengers have training or not, Burton said that
he believes that smoke hoods would help passengers to
escape an aircraft in a fire emergency.
“This is not a fear thing,” he said. “It’s not something
you’re trying to make people have paranoia over. But when
you look at the number of people who die each year from
smoke inhalation [from all types of fires] — boy, the
numbers are there.”
Dennis Wright, vice president of operations for the National Business Aircraft Association (NBAA), said that
NBAA has not taken an official position on smoke hoods.51
In the United Kingdom, Dick Duffell, the Civil Aviation
Authority’s (CAA) head of the Aircraft Systems Department, said that the CAA arrived at the same finding for
corporate aircraft as it had for commercial aircraft. “When
we looked at the corporate aircraft, we didn’t see much
benefit that would be derived by outfitting them [with
smoke hoods],” Duffell said.16
Beau Altman, president of HBAcorp, in Olympia, Wash.,
U.S., is also involved in aviation-oriented survival training.
FLIGHT SAFETY FOUNDATION • CABIN CREW SAFETY • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1993/JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1994
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Irritant products of combustion cause immediate painful
sensory stimulation of the eyes, nose, throat and lungs.
impossible to separate the effects of direct thermal injury
from smoke inhalation injury.”7
“Visual obscuration by smoke reduces escape efficiency
or renders a victim unwilling to enter a smoke-filled
escape route, while heat initially hinders or prevents
escape due to pain and burns or hyperthermia, and may
cause death either during or after exposure,” said David
A. Purser, Huntingdon Research Centre, in a paper that
modeled time of incapacitation and death from toxic and
physical hazards in aircraft fires (Table 1). 6
Twelve of the survivors of an aircraft accident that involved fire [see discussion of the Boeing 737 accident, in
Manchester, England, further in this article] answered a
survey and reported having experienced a variety of symptoms while they evacuated the burning aircraft. The symptoms included searing chest pain, chest constriction, severe
headache, wheezing, coughing, dizziness, faintness, choking, suffocation, acrid smell, lung irritation, streaming eyes,
fighting for breath, rapid breathing and gasping for breath.8
Purser said, “It is unlikely that an otherwise healthy
adult would be able to escape from a fire such as this
[based on a large scale aircraft test that simulated a postcrash fuel fire] if he or she remained longer than 2-2.5
minutes (120-150 seconds) after ignition. ... These measurements were made at 5 feet, 6 inches [1.7 meters]
above the floor, and ... the tenability of conditions improves nearer the floor, so that at 3 feet, 6 inches [1.1
meters], where a crawling victim might be, conditions
are tenable for approximately a further 30 seconds.”
Brief descriptions of several major fire-involved aircraft
accidents are listed below:
Other research has shown that in an aircraft accident
that involves a fuel-fed fire, cabin air temperatures could
be expected to reach 662 degrees F (350 degrees C) and
higher. During inhalation, the air temperature might be
reduced to between 360 degrees F and 302 degrees F
(182 degrees C and 150 degrees C [respectively]) by the
time the air reached the larynx, but “it is often virtually
• November 11, 1965. A United Air Lines Boeing
727 landed 335 feet (102 meters) short of the
runway threshold at 1752 hours local time at Salt
Lake City Municipal Airport, Salt Lake City, Utah,
U.S. The main gear sheared, and the plane caught
fire and slid more than half a mile (.8 kilometer) on
the nose gear and the bottom of the fuselage.
Although he strongly recommends smoke hoods for corporate passengers, he is not quick to recommend them
for airlines as standard equipment.
Altman said that he believes that corporate operations provide
more controlled environments than commercial operations,
and that a corporate passenger is more likely than a commercial passenger to pay attention to a safety briefing.
“I believe that these devices have benefits for aviation
safety if there is proper education and training,” he said.
“[But] without proper education and training, they could
possibly cost lives. Unless you put those two [education
and training] together with your hoods, do not put them on
the plane.”52
Altman said that on a corporate aircraft outfitted with
passenger smoke hoods, the crew needs to be familiar
enough with the passengers’ smoke hoods to teach the
passengers to use them. He said that he sees hands-on
training as the optimum method of training passengers
to use smoke hoods.
“You must be trained to properly use any of the smoke
hoods on the market today,” Altman said. “You can imagine the confusion of trying to train [all the passengers on a
commercial transport-category aircraft].
“It is the same thing as life-jackets, oxygen masks, bracing
— the passengers must be briefed on their use.”
4
Aircraft accidents involving fire are often tragic — and
dramatic. They attract attention from the general public,
the press and the aviation-associated regulatory agencies. After such accidents, there are usually increased
public demands to know what the regulators are doing to
protect passengers.
Neil Hawkins, principal of Neil Hawkins and Associates, an aviation-oriented safety-training company in
Sydney, Australia, does not train his corporate clients to
use smoke hoods, and he does not believe that training
for commercial passengers would be effective.
“If it is a corporate flight, where you have a small
number of people with relatively high I.Q.s [intelligence quotients], they might benefit from a demonstration, but on a commercial flight, less than 5 percent
watch the safety demonstration,” Hawkins said. 53 He
was employed by Qantas Airlines for 30 years, first as
an engineer, then in management of safety training.
Hawkins does not believe that smoke hoods are the best
way to save lives in an aircraft fire.
“The time spent by the passenger finding it [the smoke
hood] would be far better spent trying to get off the airplane,” he said.♦
FLIGHT SAFETY FOUNDATION • CABIN CREW SAFETY • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1993/JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1994
The CAB said, “This was a survivable accident.
There were 91 persons aboard the aircraft and 50
were successful in evacuating, although many were
severely burned and some sustained injuries during
their egress. The remaining 41 occupants were overcome
by dense smoke, intense heat and flames, or a combination of these factors, before they were able to
escape. There were no traumatic injuries which would
[have prevented] their escape.”9
• August 19, 1980. A Saudi Arabian Air Lockheed
L-1011 crew reported an inflight fire about 1820
hours local time (about 12 minutes after takeoff),
and returned to the airport at Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.
“[The plane] made a right 180-degree turnoff at the end
of the runway at 1837:59 and came to a stop at 1839:03,
which was two minutes and 40 seconds after touchdown,” the Saudi Arabian accident report said.10 During this period, the cockpit crew asked the tower if any
fire was noted in the tail of the aircraft; after checking
with fire vehicles on the scene, the tower told the
cockpit crew that no fire was seen. The report said,
however, that while the aircraft was on short approach
to landing, witnesses had observed smoke trailing from
the rear of the aircraft.
At 1839:06, the tower personnel asked the crew if
they wanted to shut down the engines or to continue
to the ramp; the crew said that they were shutting
down the engines and beginning evacuation. The
accident report said, “During this time period and
immediately thereafter, there were communications between tower and firefighters regarding an
increase in the fire and their requests to the crew
to shut down the engines.
“At 1840:33, after being told by the tower that they
have a fire in the tail, [a crew member] stated,
‘Affirmative, we are trying to evacuate now.’ This
was the last transmission received from the aircraft,” the report said.
The report added: “After further conversations by the
tower and fire personnel regarding the fire and the need
to have the engines shut down, the engines were shut
down … three minutes and 15 seconds after the aircraft
had come to a stop on the taxiway.”
None of the aircraft’s 301 occupants survived.
The report said, “Attempts by the crash/fire/rescue
(CFR) personnel to enter the aircraft and open the
doors were unsuccessful until the No. 2 door on
the right side of the aircraft was opened at about
1905, about 23 minutes after all engines had been
shut down. At 1908, the fuselage interior was
observed to be engulfed in flames.
Clearing the Air
About Smoke Hoods
In 1965, after several aircraft accidents involving fire, the
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) took a closer
look at evacuation problems and fabricated two protoypes
of a passenger smoke hood, according to E. Arnold Higgins,
Ph.D., in 1989 when he was acting manager of the Civil
Aeromedical Institute’s (CAMI) Protection and Survival
Laboratory.54 Changes in the prototypes led to a simple,
lightweight, protective, bag-shaped hood with a neck seal,
the forerunner of current designs.
Higgins said that in 1967, CAMI conducted evacuation
tests with 124 subjects who wore smoke hoods, and determined that “the presence of [non-toxic, theatrical] smoke
was the primary variable influencing speed of evacuation,
since evacuations with smoke were much slower than
those undertaken without smoke. The use of the [smoke]
hoods did not seem to have a significant effect on evacuation rate.”
The Aircraft Industries Association of America (AIA)
worked with The Boeing Co., Douglas Aircraft Co. and
Lockheed Aircraft Corp. to study eight different types of
passenger protective breathing devices, said Higgins. The
study found that seals were not satisfactory because all
the devices failed to protect against smoke and fumes, but
it “emphasized that simplicity of the [smoke] hoods motivated more of the subjects to use them.”
The FAA conducted further evacuation tests in 1968 and
determined that “there are indications that the use of
smoke hoods during an emergency evacuation of a typical
air carrier jet aircraft causes a small increase (approximately 8 percent) in the overall time required for naive
passengers to evacuate,” said Higgins.
He also said that other tests were conducted during 1968
by CAMI to “determine the extent to which the smoke
hood acts as a barrier to the transmission of sound. The
tests showed that the [smoke] hoods [used in the tests in
1968] do not interfere with the transmission of sound
waves.”
Higgins also reported that tests in 1968 found that “vision
in emergency illumination was so reduced with aluminized hoods as to make them unusable” [modern smoke
hoods have clear or slightly tinted windows].
On January 11, 1969, NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking) 69-2, “Protective Smoke Hoods for Emergency
Use by Passengers and Crewmembers” was published in
the Federal Register. The NPRM called for smoke hoods
to be on passenger-carrying commercial aircraft. There
FLIGHT SAFETY FOUNDATION • CABIN CREW SAFETY • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1993/JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1994
5
were 21 responses to the docket: three neutral, ten supportive and eight opposed. The FAA withdrew the NPRM
because the [smoke] hoods might cause a delay in evacuation, according to Higgins.
CAMI continued testing and development of various protective breathing devices for passengers, and after the
Air Canada DC-9 accident in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1983,
Higgins said that “the U.S. National Transportation Safety
Board recommended that research be expedited at CAMI
to develop the technology, equipment standards, and procedures to provide passengers with respiratory protection from toxic atmospheres during in-flight emergencies
aboard transport-category airplanes.”
During the 1980s, the FAA joined with aviation authorities in Canada, France and the United Kingdom to study
passenger protective breathing equipment (PPBE). Smoke
hoods: net safety benefit analysis, published by the U.K.
Civil Aviation Authority, presented the results of the
cooperative effort. [See “Getting Out Alive — Would
Smoke Hoods Save Airline Passengers or Put Them at
Risk?”] Today, not one government aviation authority
has mandated that smoke hoods for passengers be standard equipment on commercial transport-category
aircraft.
Unlike the protective breathing equipment required for
flight and cabin crews by U.S. Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) Part 121, for transport-category aircraft, for
example, a passenger’s smoke hood is not intended as a
firefighting tool; a smoke hood is designed to protect a
passenger for a limited period from inhaling smoke, particulates and toxic gases, while providing the wearer’s
head [e.g., eyes] limited protection from heat and ashes,
until the aircraft can be evacuated.
Two primary types of smoke hoods are available to consumers — both types have a hood that covers the wearer’s
head. Filtration-type devices have at least one built-in
filter that filters and cools ambient air before the smokehood wearer breathes the air; they do not provide oxygen
where none is present. Oxygen-supply devices have a
small cylinder-supply of breathable oxygen on which the
smoke-hood wearer depends for breathing, without involving contaminated air. In the United States, FARs prohibit passengers from bringing compressed oxygen aboard aircraft.
[Most, if not all, other countries have similar regulations.]
The compressed gas is considered a hazardous material,
said Ron Welding, manager of Operations Standards of
the Air Transport Association (ATA) of America. Welding said that an airline has no way of determining how
well a unit containing compressed gas has been maintained. An improperly maintained container of compressed
oxygen, which might leak, could make a fire emergency
even more dangerous, he said.
6
“Postmortem examinations and toxicological findings
revealed that the deaths in this accident were
attributable to the inhalation of toxic gases and/
or exposure to the effects of the fire, heat and
lack of oxygen. There were no unusual forces
transmitted to the aircraft occupants as the landing and subsequent roll-out were normal.”
The report also said that the flight crew and cabin crew
were probably incapacitated by a flashover that consumed all available oxygen or by the inhalation of
toxic gases created by burning materials in the cabin.
[Flashover occurs when gases that are trapped at the
top of the cabin react and ignite spontaneously.] The
cause of the fire could not be determined.
• June 2, 1983. The crew of an Air Canada McDonnell
Douglas DC-9-32, while en route from Dallas, Texas,
U.S., to Montreal, Quebec, Canada, reported an inflight
fire in the left rear lavatory. Smoke from the fire
was discovered at 1903 hours local time, and the
flight made an unscheduled landing at Greater Cincinnati International Airport in Covington, Kentucky, U.S., at 1920. All five crew members escaped, along with 18 passengers. The remaining
23 passengers were killed when a “flashfire” destroyed the aircraft — 60 seconds to 90 seconds
after passengers and flight attendants opened the
left and right forward cabin doors, the left forward overwing exit and the right forward and aft
overwing exits.
The NTSB accident report concluded, “Although
fatalities occurred, this accident must be considered
survivable because none of the survivability
factors were violated.”11
In a survivable accident, the report said, the forces
transmitted to the occupants do not exceed the limits of human tolerance to abrupt acceleration, either
positive or negative. In addition, the structure in the
occupants’ immediate environment remains intact
to the extent that an occupiable volume is provided
for the occupants throughout the crash sequence.
“In this accident, the fuselage integrity was not
breached during the landing and none of the occupants were exposed to decelerative forces beyond the limits of human tolerances,” the NTSB
report said.
The report added: “According to the passengers and
flight attendants, when the airplane landed, the visibility in the cabin was virtually nonexistent at heights
higher than one foot (.3 meter) above the cabin
floor. In addition, during the descent and landing, the passengers and crew were exposed to
FLIGHT SAFETY FOUNDATION • CABIN CREW SAFETY • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1993/JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1994
constantly increasing quantities of smoke and toxic
gases, and these factors combined to make the
evacuation procedures more difficult to execute
and complete.”
The report said that the flight attendants attempted
to move passengers away from the source of the
smoke and heat, to brief them on procedures
for bracing themselves and to instruct some
passengers how to open the exits.
“However, because of the smoke and toxic gases
in the cabin, they had great difficulty communicating, and in some cases, passengers did not
hear all these instructions. Virtually all the survivors stated that they had covered their mouths
and noses with towels, articles of clothing, or
other like items, as instructed by flight attendants,” the NTSB report said. Although this procedure was not contained in the company manual,
the initiative on the part of the flight attendants to
distribute wet towels and to instruct the passengers to breathe through the towels or other items
of clothing may have aided the survival of the
passengers, the report said.
“Wet towels will filter out smoke particles, acid
gases such as hydrogen chloride and hydrogen
fluoride, and hydrogen cyanide. Breathing through
clothing will also filter out smoke particles, but it
will be less effective in filtering out acid gases
and hydrogen cyanide. Neither a wet towel nor
clothing will filter out carbon monoxide.”
The NTSB report said, “The location of the fatalities in the cabin tends to confirm that those
who succumbed either made no attempt to move
toward an exit or started too late and were overcome as they attempted to move toward an exit.
... It is also possible that some of the passengers
were incapacitated because of exposure to toxic
gases and smoke during the descent and landing.”
The NTSB report added: “Based on the results of
the FAA’s cabin environment research studies,
the Safety Board concludes that the cabin environment became nonsurvivable within 20 to 30
seconds after the flashfire.”
The probable causes of the accident, said the NTSB,
“were a fire of undetermined origin, an underestimate of fire severity and misleading fire progress
information provided to the captain.”
In the original 1984 report, [revised in 1986] three
years before FAR Part 121.337 was issued, the
NTSB said that “had an oxygen bottle with a
“It creates a potentially hazardous situation. If you do have
a fire and it is fed by the oxygen, you have a horrific fire
very quickly,” said Welding.55
Although smoke hoods with a cylinder-supply of oxygen
are prohibited from being brought by passengers aboard a
U.S. commercial transport aircraft, passengers are permitted to carry filtration-type smoke hoods aboard U.S. aircraft.
In 1991, the U.K. CAA took a similar position and said,
“Where an individual has gone to the effort of acquiring
his own smoke hood, it is reasonable to suppose that he
will take the trouble to familiarize himself with its use.”44
When wearing a filtration-type smoke hood, the wearer’s
head is covered by the hood, and he or she breathes air
through the filter. Chemicals in the filter react with the
toxic gases and render them harmless. The chemicals used
in the filters vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but
carbon compounds are a common component.
Smoke hoods are constructed from a variety of materials.
Primary components include heat- and flameresistant rubber, flame-retardant fabric, Teflon® and special plastics. Some, but not all, smoke hoods allow allaround vision; of those, some are clear while others are tinted.
The filtration-type smoke hood is designed for one-time
use and is sealed in a small package, which makes it easy
for carrying in a purse or briefcase. A properly sealed
filtration-type smoke hood has a shelf life of about five
years. Some manufacturers suggest buying two smoke hoods
— one to practice donning and one to carry on aircraft and
cruise ships, and in hotels and high-rise buildings.
The FAA has not set standards for smoke hoods, but according to G.A. “Mac” McLean, supervisor of the Cabin
Safety Research Section of the Aeromedical Research Division at CAMI, the FAA uses standards for guidance in
evaluating smoke hoods set forth in 1991 by the European
Organization for Civil Aviation Equipment (EUROCAE),
an international nonprofit organization that is open to European, and under certain conditions, non-European users
and manufacturers of equipment for aeronautics.56 The standards
were published in Minimum Operational Performance Specification for Passenger Protective Breathing Equipment
(EUROCAE Document No. ED-65). EUROCAE performance specifications are recommendations only, and become regulatory only if they are enacted by a particular
government.
Prior to 1991, said McLean, there were no criteria to test
smoke hoods against. Since the EUROCAE standards were
released, he said that the FAA has “never been approached
with data that said [a particular product] met the specification.” Nevertheless, he said that the U.S. Air Force in July
1993 asked manufacturers for 15 to 20 samples of each of
FLIGHT SAFETY FOUNDATION • CABIN CREW SAFETY • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1993/JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1994
7
their respective smoke hoods. McLean said that testing
on seven vendors’ submissions is scheduled to be completed in May 1994.
McLean, who was on the committee that wrote the
EUROCAE standards, said that among the standards is a
requirement that a smoke hood must function effectively
for 25 minutes (20 minutes to allow for landing if there
is an inflight fire and five minutes to allow for evacuation from the aircraft after it is on the ground). In addition, a wearer must be able to remove the smoke hood
from its package, don it and have it functional within 10
seconds, using information obtained only from a normal
preflight briefing/demonstration or review of a passenger briefing card. The smoke hood must be able to be
removed from the wearer (by the wearer or by a third
party) within five seconds — even if the wearer is also
wearing a flotation life-jacket.
McLean said that the neck seal is particularly important,
because a seal that allowed smoke to leak into a hood
defeated the purpose of the device.
To meet the EUROCAE standards, a smoke hood must
be able to withstand the following: 11.4 kilowatts per
square meter of radiant heat for 60 seconds; a 100degree C (212-degree F) ambient air temperature for two
minutes; a 950-degree C (1,742-degree F) flame for five
seconds; and, flaming, molten, dripping plastic at 200
degrees C (392 degrees F). Once air passes through the
filter it should not exceed 90 degrees C (194 degrees F)
[47 degrees C (116 degrees F) in 100 percent humidity];
these standards must be maintained for 25 minutes.
The standards also list specific requirements for
testing. 57
The U.K. Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) published its
own standards in 1988, after studies by the Aircraft
Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) of the Department of Transport and an AAIB recommendation that
the CAA consider formulating a requirement to provide passengers with smoke hoods. 43 Dick Duffell,
head of the CAA’s Aircraft Systems Department, said
that because the CAA never mandated smoke hoods,
these standards were not formally adopted. Duffell said
that the significant differences between the U.K. standards and the EUROCAE standards were that the U.K.
standards required smoke hoods to meet a 20-minute
inhalation standard and the U.K. standards did not detail
test specifics as much as the EUROCAE standards. 16
Lisa Barros, marketing manager for Essex PB&R Corp.,
which produces the Essex Plus 10 smoke hood, stressed
the necessity for the ease of donning the equipment.
“When you are in a panic situation, you do not have time
to sit down and read directions. ... You need to be able to
pull it [a smoke hood] over your head and go.” 58
8
full-face smoke mask been available and used, it
might have encouraged and enabled the first [flight]
attendant to take immediate and aggressive actions to locate the source of the smoke and to
fight the fire.”
• August 22, 1985. About 0612 hours local time in
Manchester, England, the left engine of a British
Airtours Boeing 737 exploded while the plane was
accelerating on the runway, and the takeoff was
rejected. The explosive engine failure had caused a
rupture in the wing’s fuel tank and a fire had erupted
when the fuel reached the hot engine. The aircraft
was turned off the runway and stopped. Fuel pooled
and burned, intensified by a light wind, beneath the
rear of the aircraft. Fifty-five of the 137 occupants
of the aircraft were killed.
In a Flight Safety Digest article, author Sharon
Barthelmess described the accident with firsthand
accounts from surviving passengers and crew. 12
Barthelmess, president of Free to Fly, a company
that conducts seminars to help people to overcome
their fear of flying, had been a cabin safety specialist with the FAA, where she was responsible for
the development, management and evaluation of
its Aircraft Cabin Safety Program. She also was
employed for seven years by United Airlines as a
flight attendant.
Barthelmess reported that “pathological examination of the 54 people who died aboard the British Airtours Boeing 737 indicates that 45 people,
that is 85 percent, perished as a result of having
been incapacitated by the effects of toxic gas and
smoke inhalation, thereby eliminating any chance
of escape from the aircraft. Nine passengers died
from the thermal effects of the fire.”
Purser Arthur Bradbury described conditions inside the cabin: “I was ... aware of smoke coming
into the galley ... [the smoke] became denser and
darker ... I was in total darkness, working by
touch only. The smoke was extraordinarily dense
and thick.
“ I took a good lung-full of this acrid smoke. I felt I
could not take more than one or two more or I
would have passed out. Visibility was then about
two or three inches. ... I could not shout due to
smoke inhalation.”12
[In 1988, Flight Safety Foundation awarded its
Heroism Award, the Graviner Sword, to British
Airtours flight attendants Jacqueline Urbanski (posthumously), Sharon Ford (posthumously) and Joanna
Toff, and Arthur Bradbury for their actions during
FLIGHT SAFETY FOUNDATION • CABIN CREW SAFETY • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1993/JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1994
the Manchester accident. (See “Award Winners
Honored at Sydney Seminar,” Flight Safety Foundation News, January/February 1989.)]
In the 1989 proceedings of an Advisory Group
for Aerospace Research and Development (AGARD)
conference on aircraft fire safety, Claire Marrison
and Helen Muir, Ph.D., then both of the College
of Aeronautics at England’s Cranfield Institute of
Technology, said that the passengers in the Manchester accident did their best to evacuate the aircraft
quickly, even climbing over seats. “Human blockages
occurred adjacent to the overwing exit and the
vestibule area of the galley ... which dramatically
lowered the efficiency of the evacuation, as passengers were overcome by smoke and trampled
by others in the anxiety-ridden push to the exits,”
said the researchers. 13
The accident received international attention and
prompted further examinations of smoke hoods,
particularly in the United Kingdom.
• February 1, 1991. A landing USAir Boeing 737
collided with a Skywest Fairchild Metroliner awaiting
takeoff clearance on the runway at Los Angeles
International Airport, Los Angeles, California,
U.S. All 12 people on the Skywest flight were
fatally injured; 22 of the 67 occupants died on the
USAir flight. Both aircraft were destroyed.
The NTSB accident report said that on the USAir
aircraft, “A deceased flight attendant and 10 deceased passengers were found lined up in the
aisle from 4.5 to 8 feet [1.4 meters to 2.4 meters]
from the overwing exits. They most likely collapsed while waiting to climb out the overwing
exit. They perished as a result of smoke and particulate inhalation, strongly suggesting that they
were able to make their way, possibly guided by
floor path emergency lights, to the overwing area
from as far away as the forward cabin.” 14
David Koch, a passenger who survived the collision [and who reported his experience in Cabin
Crew Safety], described the smoke as heavy,
black and “extraordinarily painful to breathe.”
He also described looking for his jacket so that he
could use it as a mask to protect his lungs from the
smoke.15
Dick Duffell, head of the U.K. Civil Aviation Authority’s
(CAA) Aircraft Systems Department, said that the attention and the traumatic nature of aircraft accidents tend
to rush officials toward a solution. “You [a regulatory
agency] tend to react to the specific initially and not
look at the overall,” he said. 16
A would-be smoke-hood purchaser might want to consider
a smoke hood’s level of heat resistance and its ability to
filter out carbon monoxide, a deadly, tasteless, colorless
and odorless gas.
• Heat resistance. Smoke hoods are made of heatresistant materials, but how much heat should they resist? Experts acknowledge that while the hood may protect a person’s head, the rest of the body and clothing
remains exposed to heat and flames.
• Carbon monoxide filtering. Carbon monoxide and
hydrogen cyanide are the primary gases that cause the
aphyxiation of passengers in aircraft accidents, although
they are only two of many toxic gases that are generated
during an aircraft fire. Hydrogen cyanide and many other
toxic gases, along with smoke, are easily scrubbed by the
filters in modern smoke hoods; some smoke-hood manufacturers have chosen not to have their products filter
carbon monoxide from the breathable air because filtering carbon monoxide requires a more expensive filtering
process. There has been some debate about whether a
smoke hood should filter carbon monoxide, especially
when considered as an “all-or-nothing” issue in selecting
or approving a smoke hood.
John S.S. Stewart, FRCS, of England’s Royal Albert
Edward Infirmary, said, “The effect of carbon monoxide
is important if there is prolonged exposure but [it] cannot
explain [the] collapse [of passengers] after exposure for
only 30 to 60 seconds. Cyanide [generated by burning
cabin components] may cause rapid incapacitation but it
does not occur in kerosene [a wide range of petroleumderived hydrocarbons that form the basis of air-breathing
jet fuels] smoke. Carbon monoxide does occur in kerosene smoke but it does not cause rapid incapacitation.” 8
Stewart said that evidence from past accidents “suggested that duration of exposure to smoke is important
and that there is greater risk of death if the passenger is
seated further from an exit” and that “kerosene smoke
alone may cause incapacitation.”
C.R. Crane, Ph.D., the now-retired chief of CAMI’s Biochemistry Research Aviation Toxicology Laboratory, said,
“Although CO [carbon monoxide] protection has the obvious advantage of an increased survival time, a simple
and convenient mask that would provide for 5 to 10
minutes of functional time in the smoke [Crane’s emphasis] is more than adequate. ... Furthermore, the lower
cost and increased convenience will assure its purchase
and use [Crane’s emphasis] by many who would otherwise be denied such important protection for themselves
and their families.” 59,38
Barros said that carbon-monoxide filtration, along with
ease of donning, determines which are the better smoke
FLIGHT SAFETY FOUNDATION • CABIN CREW SAFETY • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1993/JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1994
9
hoods. “A lot of the hoods on the market today do not filter
any carbon monoxide,” she said. “Many others filter enough
to say they do it, but not enough to save you.”
The FAA’s McLean said that carrying a smoke hood may be
a good practice for a motivated frequent traveler, but only
if it removes carbon monoxide. Carbon monoxide is generated by incomplete combustion of fuel, he said, and carbon
monoxide will be generated whether or not flashover occurs.
“As a duly-informed government official, I could not possibly advocate anybody buying a piece of gear [a smoke
hood] that does not protect them against carbon monoxide,” McLean said. “As an ethical scientist, I would not
[advocate] it either.”
Roger Killen, who is the chief operating officer of Brookdale
International Systems Inc., said that he serves as secretary
of an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) subgroup that is designing North American standards for passenger smoke hoods. He cautioned against devices that do
not filter carbon monoxide: “The ones that don’t handle
carbon monoxide are more of a liability — worse than
useless,” he said.60
any likely offset due perhaps to delays in evacuation induced by its use.”17
The report was based on an assessment of previous aircraft
accidents and said “that the assessment should be as realistic as practicable and that smoke hoods should not be given
credit for the saving of life which it is reasonable to expect
from recent cabin safety improvements, such as fire blocking [material treated to be fire resistant] of seats, floor
proximity escape path lighting, lavatory smoke detectors
and fire extinguishers.”
The report said that fire blocking of the seats would have
delayed the buildup of smoke and toxic fumes, which would
have allowed the cabin environment to remain survivable
for a longer period of time to allow for more sustained peak
evacuation rates. Floor proximity escape path lighting would
have enhanced the evacuation rate at night and during
periods of dense smoke.
The report’s collaborators recognized “that the analysis
should take account of any delay to evacuation attributable
to the donning of smoke hoods, and any extension of the
evacuation time due to wearing this equipment.”
But Duffell has since changed his mind: “When I first
started work on the [smoke-hood] standard, I was quite
enthusiastic about the potential benefit. But after I looked
at the work [his and others’], I had to conclude that there
was no real benefit to be achieved.”
The FAA provided the computer program for the analysis and the models for each of the accidents analyzed,
which were selected from a review of the FAA’s own
accident data, and data from the CAA and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Based on a
20-year period that began in 1966, the FAA selected 74
accidents with 2,686 fatalities that met specific criteria,
which included accidents where fire was involved in
passenger operations with transport aircraft certificated
to carry more than 30 passengers. Nonsurvivable accidents and sabotage/terrorist-related accidents were not
included. The analysis was finally limited to 20 accidents (1,022 fatalities), and the method was based on
modeling “cabin survivability and evacuation rate[s] as
functions of time,” which allowed for successive comparisons of improvements that included fire blocking, floor
proximity lighting, lavatory fire detectors and extinguishers, and smoke hoods.
Duffell said that he found no justification for mandating
smoke hoods because research that the CAA conducted
jointly with the U.S. FAA, French Directorate General
of Civil Aviation (DGAC) and Transport Canada led to
the conclusion that the number of lives saved by smoke
hoods each year would be “modest.”
The report said that the “essential contribution [of a smoke
hood] would be a substantial improvement to survivability
in the cabin fire atmosphere. It would not be expected to
improve evacuation rates but would sustain evacuation up
to the point where the cabin becomes unsurvivable even
with smoke hoods.”
Results of the multi-country research were published by
the CAA in a November 1987 report, Smoke hoods: net
safety benefit analysis.
Nevertheless, the report concluded that after applying the
various improvements to the accident models, smoke hoods
in the benefits analysis could be credited with an estimated
potential of preventing 179 fire-related deaths — about
nine fire-related deaths worldwide per year during the 20year period.
He said that there are at least four manufacturers that do not
sell smoke hoods in North America because of liability
claims that might result from the lack of specific U.S.
standards.♦
When Duffell began his work with smoke hoods in 1985
(in the aftermath of the Manchester accident), he said
that he believed that smoke hoods were the obvious
tools to prevent another such tragedy. “There was significant information to suggest that more people would
have survived the Manchester accident if they had had
respiratory protection,” he said.
The collaborative program, said the CAA report, aimed at
“an assessment of the safety benefit [for smoke hoods], and
10
FLIGHT SAFETY FOUNDATION • CABIN CREW SAFETY • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1993/JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1994
“This proportion is modest,” said the report, “not because
of any assumed limitations as to the protection provided by
smoke hoods, but rather because of the contributions that
would already have been made by other improvements. In
the absence of fire blocking [477 estimated potential lives
saved, which was heavily weighted by the Saudi Arabian
Air Lockheed L-1011 accident] or floor proximity lighting
[39 estimated potential lives saved], the contribution which
would have been made by smoke hoods could have been
substantial indeed.”
model of the 20 accidents studied in Smoke hoods: net
safety benefit analysis. The FAA report noted that “the
results of exercising this model ... indicate that the ‘lives
saved’ is very sensitive to assumptions.”18
The report also determined “that the wearing of smoke
hoods does not delay or slow down the evacuation,” but
concluded “that even if the wearing of smoke hoods were
to result in a delayed or slower evacuation, the net benefit
would remain positive, but reduced.”
The CAA cited several specific points by which the results
of Smoke hoods: net safety benefit analysis could be criticized. It said that past accidents may not be a good guide to
the future, but noted that “no better measure is available”;
no account was taken of the growth of aviation, which
doubled during the period, and appeared to have been
offset by improved safety records of newer aircraft; “smokehood wearers in noncritical levels of smoke are subject
to some small levels of risk associated with hood malfunction”; “the safety benefit [preventing 179 firerelated deaths] assumes no delay or adverse effect on
evacuation when [smoke] hoods are worn,” a situation that
may not occur in an actual accident; and finally, “No credit
is given for the possible influence of smoke hoods in reducing panic and inducing more orderly evacuation. This
may have influenced the outcome in some but by no means
all accidents.”
The report said that the estimated saving of 179 lives was
based on the assumptions of “perfect” protection by smoke
hoods and that every person who would benefit from a
smoke hood would use it.
“Ready availability, ease of donning and adequate briefing
would help but even if there is no actual resistance by
passengers to the wearing of hoods, it would be unrealistic
to assume that all passengers in all accidents will remain so
self-possessed and rational that all [the passengers] will
make use of the smoke hoods,” said the report.
The report attempted to consider this factor in the accidents that were reviewed, with special attention to the degree of crash damage and the likelihood of smoke-hood use.
[Likelihood of]
Use of smoke hood
Degree of damage [to aircraft]
Very high (100 percent) Inflight fires (premeditated use).
High
(75 percent)
(25 percent) Major to severe cabin damage,
including complete fracture.
Negligible (0 percent)
In their AGARD paper, Marrison and Muir noted that there
is a psychological aspect to aircraft fires: “If fire or smoke
are present in the cabin and are allowed to persist, they
create an environment which impairs breathing and vision. Equally, the combinations of toxic fumes which
emanate from cabin fires also have the potential to influence psychological functioning, which may, in turn, affect the behavioral responses of individuals in an emergency
evacuation.
No cabin damage.
Moderate (50 percent) Little or no cabin damage, rapidly developing fire threat.
Low
The FAA report also noted that the “effectiveness of protective breathing equipment was shown to be greatly influenced by the assumed time to don the devices [smoke
hoods], and a delay of 15 seconds in donning time [would
have] resulted in 82 additional fire deaths.”
Severe/extreme damage, cabin in
many cases in a number of pieces.
After this assessment was applied to the 20 accidents, the
smoke hood’s estimated potential of preventing 179 firerelated deaths was reduced to 134 of the total 1,022 firerelated deaths.
The FAA released its own report in 1988, Study of Benefits
of Passenger Protective Breathing Equipment from Analysis of Past Accidents, with its results of the computer
“In addition to the specific impact of smoke and fire, toxic
fumes can also lead to a number of behavioral responses
which include disorientation, anxiety and depersonalization.”
E.J. “Ed” Trimble, Ph.D., a principal inspector of air accidents for the U.K. Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB)
of the Department of Transport, had an important exposure
to smoke hoods while investigating the Manchester accident. After looking into the accident and reading survivors’
testimonies, he also recognized the adverse affects that fire
had on passengers. Trimble said that he believed that smoke
hoods could have increased safety.
“Initially I was tasked with looking at the survival side and
at that time we thought it would just be the normal things
that kept people from getting out of the plane, such as a
jammed door,” Trimble said. “The real key thing was that
people were being incapacitated.” 19
FLIGHT SAFETY FOUNDATION • CABIN CREW SAFETY • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1993/JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1994
11
Table 2
All Smoke Hoods Are Not Created Equal*
Company & Contact
*All information has been
provided by manufacturers’
literature and by telephone
queries to company
representatives. This
information might not be
entirely accurate.
Smoke hood model?
Is your smoke hood designed
for use by airline passengers?
What kind of system?
Have you sold to any airlines?
EVAC • U8 Emergency
Escape Smoke Hood
Originally designed for home
use; also marketed for airline
passengers.
Filter system. Consists of hood,
filter with mouthpiece, nose
clip.
Some individual pilots and
flight attendants have purchased
it for personal use.
Dowty Environmental and
Safety Products
Hearthcote Road
Swadlincote, Derbyshire
DE11 9DX England
Telephone: 0283 221122
Fax: 0283 222911
Gorden Neale, sales manager.
[Survival Products Inc., North
American distributor
P.O. Box 100428
Fort Worth, TX, U.S. 76185
Telephone: (817) 923-0300.
Graham O’Connor, president]
SMOKESHIELD Personal
Fire Smoke Escape Hood
Designed for corporate passengers — has not addressed
commercial market.
Filter.
Drager
101 Technology Drive
P.O. Box 120
Pittsburgh, PA, U.S. 15230
Telephone: (412) 787-8383
Fax: (412) 787-2207
Jan-aake Hammarlund, senior
product manager for
Respiratory Products,
National Drager Inc.
No comment.
Some airlines have purchased
these for their crews for hotel
stays during layovers (not for
flight).
Parat C Smoke Escape Mask
Originally intended for use in
high-rise hotels.
Filter (with nose cup).
Has it been tested by the FAA
or CAA?
Has it been tested against
EUROCAE standards?
No.
Distributor does not know.
No.
Yes, by Miller Nelson
Laboratories in California, U.S.
No. It is not designed to meet
EUROCAE standards.
No.
Does it meet EUROCAE
standards?
Where does it fall short?
Its duration is five minutes less
than that standard dictates.
(not tested)
(not tested)
Heat levels?
Hood heat-resistant to 800°C
(1,472°F); canister (filter) to
300°C (572°F).
11 ounces (311.8 grams);
slightly larger than a soda can (5
x 2-1/2 inches [12.7 x 6.35centimeters] cylinder).
EVAC•U8 went on the market
in 1993.
Passed flame-lick test with
500°C (932°F) flame
Flame-tested for 5 seconds at
2,000°C (3,632°F).
Less than 3.5 ounces (100
grams); less than 8 x 5 x .3
inches (20 x 13 x .75
centimeters).
Product has been in existence
(through various company and
name changes) since the
mid-1980s.
Dowty is owned by Tube
Investments.
1.3 pounds (600 grams);
3 x 7 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches (8 x 19
x 13.5 centimeters).
Packaged size and weight?
How long have you been
selling passenger smoke
hoods?
12
Brookdale International
1-8755 Ash Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada V6P6T3
Telephone: (604) 324-3822
Fax: (604) 324-3821
Roger Killen, chief operating
officer
The Parat C was first marketed
in 1980, but was not marketed
in the United States until 1993.
Are you in any other
business?
No.
Respiratory equipment, gas
detection, alcohol detection.
Has your smoke hood been
used in an actual emergency?
No.
No.
No.
How much does it cost?
US$49.95-$59.95.
US$47.95.
US$160-$180.
Does it fit over glasses, beards,
hair?
OK. If the neck seal is loose, the Difficult, but it can be done.
filter would not be jeopardized
because it is a mouthpiece.
Not a problem. If long hair was
left down, it would affect the
neck seal quality, but not the
quality of the nose cup seal.
FLIGHT SAFETY FOUNDATION • CABIN CREW SAFETY • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1993/JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1994
Table 2
All Smoke Hoods Are Not Created Equal
Fuji Safety Inc.
Tokyo, Japan
Telephone: 3405-5011
Katsumi Fujinuma, president.
[Fuji Safety Inc. (USA) 655
Montgomery Street
Suite 1450
San Francisco, CA,
U.S. 94111-2631.
Telephone: (415) 677-5140
Fax: (415) 391-4999. William
B. Murphy, director of
marketing and
administration.]
Fuji Ace Mark II Emergency
Escape Mask
Not designed exclusively for
airline passenger use.
S.M. Alexander (Plastics) Ltd.
Levellers Lane, Eynesbury,
St. Neats, Cambs PE19 2JU
England
Telephone: 0480-473140
Fax: 0480 406968
[Euro Marketing & Import
(EMI), Inc., North American
distributor
P.O. Box 6352
Santa Barbara, CA
U.S. 93160
Telephone: (805) 964-1447
Thomas Bakker, president]
Provita Smoke Hood
Filter (with nose cup).
Filter.
Duram Rubber Products
Kibbutz Ramat Hakovesh
44930 Israel
Telephone: 972-9-458458
Fax: 972-9-458479
[Life Safety Products Inc.,
distributor
12842 Valley View Street
Suite 207
Garden Grove, CA
U.S. 92645
Telephone: (714) 893-5505
J. Edgar Barnhill III, chief
executive officer.]
Duram Emergency Escape
Mask
Yes.
Essex PB&R Corp.
505 Blue Ball Court
P.O. Box 791
Elkton, MD
U.S. 21921
Telephone: (410) 398-3353
Steven Luthultz, general
manager
Filter.
Filter.
Letter from aerospace
manufacturer says company
purchased Duram hoods for its
traveling executives.
No.
No.
No. Interest has been expressed
Has sold to airline pilots and
flight attendants for personal use by corporate operators.
(e.g., off-duty flying, hotel
stays). Two sales representatives
are with airlines; one is a pilot.
No.
No.
No.
No.
Yes, by TNO Defense Research
Lab in Liden, Holland.
(not tested)
Manufacturer said Plus 10
would not meet ED-65;
Plus 10’s duration is too short.
Hood will withstand up to
315.5°C (600°F).
Hood will withstand up to
310°C (590°F).
3.9 ounces (110.6 grams);
4 x 5 x 1/4 inches (10.4 x 12.7 x
.6 centimeters).
1 pound (.45 kilogram);
5 1/2 x 8 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches (14
x 21.6 x 6.3 centimeters).
Duram has been making smoke
hoods for 4 years.
Essex PB&R Corp. has sold
self-contained units (SCUs) for
10 years; the Plus 10 has been
on the market for over a year.
Personal breathing equipment
for commercial crew members;
SCU for corporate passengers
and crew.
No.
This mask was first produced
and distributed in the early
1980s.
Starts at US$195.
US$99.95 (lower if purchased in US$49.95 (retail).
large quantities); practice mask
sells for US$14.95.
It is intended to fit over hair and No problem over glasses; plenty
glasses. A strap adjusts the filof space for hair.
ter, which is in a nose cup, and
there is a seal around the neck.
Duram Rubber Co. also makes
rubber products.
Yes. One distributor entered an
office building that was on fire
and helped evacuate people.
US$59 - $69.
Fits over glasses.
Plus 10 Filter Breathing Unit
Yes.
Long hair can be tucked in.
No. It has been tested against
Japanese standards, which it
meets or exceeds.
(not tested)
81.7°C (179°F) (hot air stream);
107.2°C (225°F) (500W heat
lamp at 250 mm).
Less than 15 ounces (466.5
grams); 4 1/2 x 2 3/4 x 7 inches
(11.4 x 7 x 17.8 centimeters).
Yes.
No.
Distributor did not know.
Hood will withstand up to
500°C (932°F).
Less than 5 ounces (125 grams);
5 x 6 x 1 inches (12.7 x 15.2 x
2.5 centimeters).
Produces a nose cup with a
headband that acts as a filter.
Provita has been sold for about
9 months. Developed in
response to Persian Gulf War
and aircraft fires.
Makes protective clothing and
safety devices.
No.
Distributor did not know.
FLIGHT SAFETY FOUNDATION • CABIN CREW SAFETY • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1993/JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1994
13
Table 2 (continued)
Company & Contact
*All information has been
provided by manufacturers’
literature and by telephone
queries to company
representatives. This
information might not be
entirely accurate.
Smoke hood model?
How many are actually in
consumers’ hands?
Does it filter carbon
monoxide?
What is the hood made of?
Neck seal?
Shelf life?
How long will the product
function? Under what
conditions?
Brookdale International
1-8755 Ash Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
Canada V6P6T3
Telephone: (604) 324-3822
Fax: (604) 324-3821
Roger Killen, chief operating
officer
EVAC • U8 Emergency
Escape Smoke Hood
Did not know. 8-10 thousand
have left the factory.
Yes. 2,500 parts per million
(ppm) for 20 minutes.
Kapton™ (a heat- and flameresistant polymide film that is
very thin, orange and looks like
plastic).
Drawstring. Manufacturer says
it cannot be pulled so tightly
that it would choke the wearer.
5 years.
15-20 minutes (very thick
smoke).
He added that the pathology results that he reviewed
indicated that 50 of the 55 deaths in the Manchester
accident resulted from the smoke and toxic fumes that
incapacitated the passengers and crew before they could
escape from the burning aircraft.
In his doctoral thesis (published in 1993 by The Robert
Gordon University in Aberdeen, Scotland), Trimble said
that he came to the conclusion that smoke hoods would
keep passengers conscious and mobile.
“Nobody is going to come in [the aircraft] and get you.
You have got to get out yourself, and to do that you have
to be mobile,” he said.
Trimble’s thesis, The Management of Aircraft Passenger
Survival in Fire, concluded that evacuations were delayed when people became incapacitated. The longer the
delay, the more likely that conscious passengers would
become incapacitated. Trimble called it “debilitationinduced evacuation suppression.” 20
Trimble said that he does not believe that the use of
smoke hoods will delay an emergency evacuation of
an aircraft. He said that he believed that delays re14
Dowty Environmental and
Safety Products
Hearthcote Road
Swadlincote, Derbyshire
DE11 9DX England
Telephone: 0283 221122
Fax: 0283 222911
Gorden Neale, sales manager.
[Survival Products Inc., North
American distributor
P.O. Box 100428
Fort Worth, TX, U.S. 76185
Telephone: (817) 923-0300.
Graham O’Connor, president]
SMOKESHIELD Personal
Fire Smoke Escape Hood
Will not disclose sales figures.
Drager
101 Technology Drive
P.O. Box 120
Pittsburgh, PA, U.S. 15230
Telephone: (412) 787-8383
Fax: (412) 787-2207
Jan-aake Hammarlund, senior
product manager for
Respiratory Products,
National Drager Inc.
No.
Yes. 2,500 ppm for at least 15
minutes.
Flame-retardant, selfextinguishing fabric.
Kapton.™
Parat C Smoke Escape Mask
Did not know.
Rubber.
Elastic.
5 years.
6 years for filter (can be replaced if it has not been used);
12 years for hood.
15 minutes (“normal” fire).
Manufacturer does not list
duration time because actual fire
conditions cannot be replicated.
ported in smoke-hood evacuation tests were related
more to the dark interiors of the aircraft because of
the loss of major illumination than to the donning and
wearing of smoke hoods.
No matter what the cause, testing has demonstrated the
potential hazard of delays that might be caused by smoke
hoods, according to Constantine P. “Gus” Sarkos, manager
of the Fire Safety Branch at the FAA Technical Center
in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
“Using a model tied into full-scale fire data, we showed
that if there was even a 10-second delay ... in past
accidents, more people would have died than would have
been saved,” said Sarkos. 21
Tom McSweeny, director of the FAA’s Aircraft Certification Service, said that in an aircraft with only two
main cabin doors (Type A doors [72 inches (183 centimeters) high by 42 inches (107 centimeters) wide]) available,
FAA tests showed that four people can evacuate in one
second. If an evacuation is slowed by even one second,
he said, it could cost one life. 22 McSweeny said that
evacuation slides are wide enough for two people to
evacuate almost simultaneously, and that the FAA’s tests
FLIGHT SAFETY FOUNDATION • CABIN CREW SAFETY • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1993/JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1994
Table 2 (continued)
Duram Rubber Products
Kibbutz Ramat Hakovesh
44930 Israel
Telephone: 972-9-458458
Fax: 972-9-458479
[Life Safety Products Inc.,
distributor
12842 Valley View Street
Suite 207
Garden Grove, CA
U.S. 92645
Telephone: (714) 893-5505
J. Edgar Barnhill III, chief
executive officer.]
Duram Emergency Escape
Mask
About 1,000 per month.
Essex PB&R Corp.
505 Blue Ball Court
P.O. Box 791
Elkton, MD
U.S. 21921
Telephone: (410) 398-3353
Steven Luthultz, general
manager
No.
Yes. 2,500 ppm for 3 minutes;
plus 10,000 ppm for 2 minutes.
Teflon PFA; 7.5 mil (thickness).
A latex-type material.
Plus 10 Filter Breathing Unit
Did not know.
Fuji Safety Inc.
Tokyo, Japan
Telephone: 3405-5011
Katsumi Fujinuma, president.
[Fuji Safety Inc. (USA) 655
Montgomery Street
Suite 1450
San Francisco, CA,
U.S. 94111-2631.
Telephone: (415) 677-5140
Fax: (415) 391-4999. William
B. Murphy, director of
marketing and
administration.]
Fuji Ace Mark II Emergency
Escape Mask
Still trying to get significant
sales.
Tests were not conclusive.
S.M. Alexander (Plastics) Ltd.
Levellers Lane, Eynesbury,
St. Neats, Cambs PE19 2JU
England
Telephone: 0480-473140
Fax: 0480 406968
[Euro Marketing & Import
(EMI), Inc., North American
distributor
P.O. Box 6352
Santa Barbara, CA
U.S. 93160
Telephone: (805) 964-1447
Thomas Bakker, president]
Provita Smoke Hood
Will not disclose sales figures.
No.
Laminated, flame-retardant
polyvinyl chloride (PVC) sheet
on heat-resistant fabric (“fireretardant PVC leather”).
Elastic band; hood collar covers
it.
Kapton.™
Neck seal is part of hood; conforms to neck.
Silicone rubber.
4 years.
5 years.
5 years.
4 years.
20 minutes.
10 minutes (extremely toxic
atmosphere).
15 minutes (fairly severe
conditions).
10 minutes (chemical fire with a
high concentration of chlorides);
20 minutes (airplane fire).
assume that in an actual evacuation, passengers will
push to the doors and others will be immediately behind
them in the aisles.
“The reality of any evacuation is people are standing in
the aisle, waiting for the door [to reach the door and exit
the aircraft],” he said. 23
“If you measure the effect of any piece of equipment for
fire safety,” McSweeny said, “you have to test in relation to today’s standards. In simple terms, it is the argument ‘Are you saving the same lives over and over
again?’ You can only save them once.”
If smoke hoods were required for commercial air carriers, McSweeny said, “You have the cost of purchasing
them, the cost of maintaining them and the cost of replacing them [assuming pilferage, wear and damage].
And, there’s the weight — for every pound you put on
the plane you take a pound from cargo, which means the
extra weight not only burns fuel but costs revenue.”
Denis Warren, head of the CAA’s Research and Management Support Department, suggested that if passengers
in a more recent non-fatal aircraft accident had been
Neoprene latex.
provided with smoke hoods, the smoke-hoods might have
contributed to fatalities.
“We look at accidents like the TWA [Trans World Airlines] L-1011 accident at Kennedy Airport, where everyone got out but it was a very rapid evacuation, and we
wonder if they would have gotten out if people were
unpacking their smoke hoods,” said Warren. 24
[On July 30, 1992, at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, the flight crew of a TWA Lockheed
L-1011 rejected the takeoff just after liftoff. The NTSB
said that when the plane came to rest, it was upright and
burning. Most of the reported 10 injuries were minor,
and there were no fatalities. The aircraft was destroyed
by fire. (See “Faulty Angle-of-attack Sensor Provokes
Go/No-Go Decision with an Inadequately Coordinated
Crew,” Accident Prevention, August 1993.)
The NTSB accident report said, “The evacuation of the
airplane occurred within two minutes. The speed in
evacuating 292 passengers and crew from the airplane
was complemented by the following: TWA’s requirement
(in accordance with TWA’s normal operating procedures)
for nine flight attendants, which was three more than the
FLIGHT SAFETY FOUNDATION • CABIN CREW SAFETY • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1993/JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1994
15
FAA minimum; and the fact that the nine flight attendants were assisted by five TWA nonrevenue (off-duty)
flight attendants and two off-duty TWA captains who
were occupying the cockpit jumpseats.
“TWA flight attendants undergo recurrent training on
the operation of all cabin doors every 12 months. This is
twice as often as the every-24-months requirement of the
FAA. The flight attendants reported no problems operating the exits, and the Safety
Board believes that the training they received helped in this
regard.” 25
The report concluded, “Although
certain deficiencies were noted
in the cabin furnishings that require corrective actions ... the
performance of the flight attendants and the pilots in leading
the emergency evacuation prevented significant loss of life.”
The NTSB recommended that
the FAA “research the effect
of aging on the self-extinguishing ability of cabin interior
furnishings.”]
aircraft built since August 1990 must comply with the
new standard. Nevertheless, when parts on older aircraft
are replaced, only the specific parts being replaced must
comply with the new standards. Original FAA forecasts
estimated that 85 percent of the U.S. airline fleet would
be in compliance with the 1988 standards by 2000; current trends indicate that only 55 percent of the fleet will
be in compliance by 2000. [See “U.S. Report: Progress
Slow in Fireproofing Aircraft Cabins,” Cabin Crew Safety,
March/April 1993.]
There have been significant regulatory changes for aircraft interiors in the United States since
the mid-1980s.1 McSweeny said
that actions by the FAA have
increased the level of aircraft
cabin fire safety since the late
1970s and early 1980s. He said
that these improvements have
reduced the potential, overall
benefit of smoke hoods. [Improvements have included fire
blocking of seat cushions, fire
blocking of sidewall and ceiling panels, lavatory smoke detectors, hand held fire
extinguishers, improved cargo
liners, protective breathing
equipment for flight crews and
cabin crews, and floor emergency escape path lighting.]
“I would rather spend my money
[U.S. taxpayers’ money] and efforts in preventing [an inflight
fire] from happening or getting
the fire extinguished [than on EVAC•U8 Emergency Escape Smoke Hood
Matt McCormick, chief of the
providing passengers with smoke
NTSB’s Survival Factors Divihoods],” said the FAA’s Sarkos.
sion, said that the NTSB has not made a recommendation
for or against mandating smoke hoods for passengers. He
Henri Branting, manager of the FAA’s Technical Analysaid, “We don’t want to see anything that will slow them
sis Branch, said that the FAA’s number one priority is to
[the crew] down getting them [the passengers] out of the
introduce materials into cabins that burn more slowly to
plane.”27
prevent or delay the point of flashover. “FAA testing
revealed that toxic fumes in a cabin reached dangerous
The Aviation Consumer Action Project (ACAP), a U.S.levels when the cabin was engulfed in fire. Flashover is
based advocacy group begun by lawyer and consumer acthe most dangerous situation,” he said. 26
tivist Ralph Nader, believes that the FAA’s reluctance to
mandate smoke hoods on commercial aircraft is not based
Branting said that although fire-blocked seat cushions
solely on safety grounds.
were mandated, “it was far too expensive to have the
airlines tear out perfectly good interiors [wall and ceilGeraldine Frankoski, director of ACAP, said that ACAP
ing panels] and have them replace them with better
filed in 1987 a petition for proposed rulemaking that asked
[fire-blocked] ones.”
the FAA to require filtration-type smoke hoods that would
allow 20 minutes of uncontaminated breathing air for each
The FAA, however, was criticized recently by the U.S.
aircraft passenger. Frankoski said that the FAA denied
General Accounting Office (GAO), a nonpartisan conACAP’s petition in March 1993, citing possible theft of
gressional agency that audits federal programs. The GAO
smoke hoods, cost and potentially longer evacuation times.
calculated that the entire U.S. airline fleet will not be in
compliance with 1988 cabin interior standards until 2018.
“We do not believe that any of these reasons are valid,”
The latest standards apply to cabin panels and walls, and
said Frankoski, a passenger-survivor of the 1991 Los
16
FLIGHT SAFETY FOUNDATION • CABIN CREW SAFETY • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1993/JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1994
Angeles USAir/Skywest accident. Frankoski accused the
FAA of denying ACAP’s petition because of “[aviation]
industry pressure and industry concerns about cost and
convenience.” 28
The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) supported ACAP’s
petition in a 1988 letter to the FAA from AFA’s thenDirector of Air Safety and Health Matthew H. Finucane:
“Too many passengers seem to be overcome by an incapacitating panic, perhaps exacerbated by the irritating
gases, and putting on the [smoke] hood could provide
them with a sense of orientation and being able to escape the aircraft.” 29
Christopher Witkowski (former ACAP executive director), who became AFA’s director of air safety and health
in 1992, said AFA continues to stand behind the 1988
letter.
“Toxic fumes are a problem, and until the FAA makes
advances in getting rid of them,
the FAA should pursue the feasibility of passenger smoke
hoods on commercial passenger aircraft,” Witkowski said.30
Witkowski also said that the
approximately 70-member AFA
staff bargained for an additional provision in their new
work contract that specified
that staff members would be
issued a smoke hood whenever they traveled on AFA business. Thus far, he said, a specific
smoke-hood model has not been
selected and purchased for staff
use, although several months
have passed since the contract
was approved.31
Beckett, whose daughter was killed in the Manchester
accident, also said that he believes CAA and FAA arguments about delayed evacuations are flawed.
“The argument they are putting forth is a spurious one,”
he said. “Does it mean that because some people can’t
put them [smoke hoods] on, they shouldn’t be there?”
“All the research necessary [to produce smoke hoods
that can be installed on commercial transport-category
aircraft] has been done and it is reported in Dr. E.J.
Trimble’s detailed thesis,” said Derek Dempster, a former
pilot with British Overseas Airways Corp. (BOAC), who
became head of safety and security for the then-Air
Transport Users Committee (AUC) [now the Air Transport Users Council] during the 1980s. 33 The AUC was a
volunteer organization, which was partially funded by
the U.K. CAA, that represented air passengers and shippers. In 1986, the AUC urged the CAA to consider a
simple and inexpensive smoke hood that would allow
passengers a three-minute window of opportunity to
escape from a burning aircraft
on the ground.
“My concern is that the traveling public doesn’t know about
these wonderful devices [modern
smoke hoods], which should
be available for purchase in airport shops,” said Dempster. “Airlines don’t have to be penalized
[by requiring smoke hoods]. Just
let people carry [compressed
gas] smoke hoods on the aircraft.”
Dempster said that it would be
a “grave mistake” to suggest
further smoke-hood research is
necessary, because aviation
authorities might sieze this as
a means to block airline passengers from using the smoke
In the United Kingdom, Surhoods of their choice [specifivivors’ Campaign to Improve SMOKESHIELD Personal Fire Smoke Escape Hood
cally those using compressed
Safety in Airline Flight Equipgas]. He said that there would
ment (SCI SAFE) advocates the use of smoke hoods, and
be little thanks for such a recommendation.
co-chairman William Beckett disagreed with arguments
about the expense of providing smoke hoods to passen“Not many people would thank you [Flight Safety Foundagers. [SCI SAFE was founded by the families of some of
tion if it suggested that further research is required] ... ,
the nonsurvivors of the Manchester accident and by some
least of all the regulators and the airlines when lawyers for
of the accident-survivors.]
the next lot of victims of toxic fumes justifiably turn their
guns onto them,” said Dempster. “Believe me, they’re
“The cost of introducing a smoke hood is minimal in rela[lawyers are] standing by waiting for such an
tion to the cost of introducing a video in the back of your
eventuality.”34
seat, a telephone in the back of your seat, or whatever
gadgets are being introduced in business class,” Beckett
Malcolm C. Keogh, a law partner in the firm of Pannone &
said.32
Partners, said that he believes that in the United Kingdom,
FLIGHT SAFETY FOUNDATION • CABIN CREW SAFETY • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1993/JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1994
17
the CAA is not protected legally from suit in court, unlike
the FAA, for failing to perform its functions.
lung function may deteriorate rapidly in the 24 hours
following exposure.
“According to the Civil Aviation Act of 1982, ‘ … it is
hereby declared that the CAA is not to be regarded as the
servant or agent of the Crown or as enjoying any status,
privilege or immunity of the Crown ... ,’” said Keogh, who
was a member of the legal steering
committee that represented “virtually all the passengers involved
in the Boeing 737” accident in
Manchester.35 “‘It shall be the
duty of the CAA to perform the
functions conferred on it ... to
further the reasonable interests
of users of air transport services.’
“The only effective way to prevent them [particulates] from
7
entering the lungs is to filter them out.”
“Clearly, the CAA would currently
argue that it considers that passengers’ best interests are served by
prohibiting them from using
EUROCAE-65 [compressed gas]
smoke hoods. I would argue that
the very extensive research which
has taken place, culminating in
the thesis of Dr. E.J. Trimble,
unequivocably demonstrates that
smoke hoods would save lives.
The inevitable conclusion of my
argument is that if there should
be another accident involving a
Parat C Smoke Escape Mask
British-registered aircraft where
people die through asphyxiation in circumstances, which
could have been prevented by the use of smoke hoods, the
[U.K.] Civil Aviation Authority will bear full legal liability
by reason of its breach of a clearly defined statutory duty.”
A conference at the University of Oxford’s Linacre College in England in March 1988, focused on the CAA’s
Smoke hoods: net safety benefit analysis. Some participants were critical of the report’s research.
H.S. Park, a B.P. Ventures Ltd. statistician who attended
the conference, concluded: “No consideration has been
given to some factors which could be important when
examining the safety benefit of smoke hoods. For example, only deaths have been considered. It is probable
that smoke hoods improve, immediately and in the long
term, the post-crash condition of survivors. In insurance
claims, injuries can prove more expensive than death.” 36
The Royal Air Force Institute of Aviation and Forensic
Pathology reported at the AGARD meeting that in an aircraft fire particulates can carry toxic materials into the
lungs that may cause lung disease later in life and that
“the potential hazard of smoke inhalation should not be
underestimated. Survivors may feel well initially, but
18
During the same 1988 conference, then recently retired
chief of the FAA’s Civil Aeromedical
Institute’s (CAMI) Biochemistry
Research Aviation Toxicology Laboratory, C.R. Crane, Ph.D., said, “It
is especially interesting that the
only ‘improvement’ which is allowed to extend the time available
for successful evacuation ... is the
installation of fire-blocking layers!
“I would characterize the general model [used in the CAA’s
report] as one that would inadequately, if not incorrectly, represent the real world of aircraft
fires. Furthermore, the parameters
that serve as input for the predicting equations are so rarely
available from accident investigation data — or are estimated
with such poor precision and confidence — that one could get almost any answer he wanted by
selecting the appropriate input values. There is, however, one trend in the predictions that
does suggest, to this reviewer, some sort of systematic bias
(either in the design of the equations or in the selection of
the input values) and this is that the contribution from FBL
[fire-blocking materials in the aircraft cabin] is consistently overestimated while that from PPBE [passenger protective breathing equipment] is underestimated.”37,38
[In 1984, the FAA mandated that Part 121 aircraft be retrofitted with seat cushions that had a thin layer of highly fireresistant materials. The fire-blocking layer would protect
the foam core of the cushion. When foam burns, it not only
spreads the fire but also emits lethal smoke, combustible
gases and toxic gases.]
Crane acknowledged that developing an adequate model is
difficult: “The fact that I have characterized the model
under review as potentially inadequate (and even possibly flawed) does not also mean that I, or anyone else,
have a better one to offer at this time. It is possible that
more appropriate equations could be devised, but we
cannot change the fact that historical data required for
input into any equation are almost nonexistent. I would
prefer no model over a poor model — no predictions
over misleading ones.”
FLIGHT SAFETY FOUNDATION • CABIN CREW SAFETY • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1993/JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1994
J.H.B. Vant, Ph.D., chairman of the Aviation Study Group
at the University of Oxford’s Linacre College, reported
on the results of a 1987 smoke-hood test in a paper
presented at the 1989 AGARD conference. The test,
which was conducted at Teesside Airport, was organized by a research team from Linacre College led by
Vant; the CAA contributed personnel, equipment and
money to the test, which was conducted in the spring
season.
There were 765 volunteers, aged 18 to 50, who participated in nine simulated emergency evacuations from a
Hawker-Siddeley Trident 3 airliner [capable of seating
up to 180 passengers] in clear air and nontoxic theatrical
smoke, with and without smoke hoods. British Airway’s
flight attendants who were familiar with the aircraft also
volunteered and participated in the tests.
In his paper, “Smoke Hoods Donned Quickly — The
Impact of Donning Smoke Hoods on Evacuation Times,”
Vant reported that to ensure that
the “tests would gain acceptance”
by the FAA, it was agreed “that
the cabin crew’s directions to
don [the smoke] hoods would
be as the falling smoke reached
the top of the seat backs. ... This
was likely to be the longest period of time passengers would
tolerate smoke without donning
[smoke] hoods.” 39
“It was observed that on donning smoke hoods in conditions of smoke a more orderly evacuation took place
than in a condition of smoke without hoods. It is therefore concluded that the donning of the ventilated smoke
hoods gave participants a feeling of protection from the
smoke and the confidence they gained from this act
brought about a more orderly evacuation.”
Vant concluded that “the preoccupation of evacuation
times, with and without smoke hoods, has led to the
main point being missed. The tests show, as did those
undertaken by the Federal Aviation Administration [see
“Clearing the Air About Smoke Hoo d s ” ] t h a t
evacuation in conditions of smoke takes much longer
and thus protection is necessary from smoke particles,
toxic fumes and gasses for some passengers to
survive.”
Although the Teesside results supported smoke-hood
use, some industry authorities questioned whether passengers’ reactions could be anticipated in a real-life
emergency. They said that human behavior is not predictable, and that a person
unfamiliar with a smoke hood
may not be able to use it correctly.
“That it [a smoke hood] is a
device that has to be individually donned by each passenger indicates that there is a
tremendous opportunity for differences in the time it takes
[to don a smoke hood],” said
Al Prest, Air Transport Association of America (ATA) vice
president of operations. 40 ATA
is an association of airlines
that transport people, goods
and mail between fixed terminals on regular schedules.
Nevertheless, many of the participants in the Linacre College
test made some significant decisions of their own. The CAA’s
Smoke hoods: net safety benefit
analysis noted, “No delay in donning was identified in the Linacre
College trials because many of
the test subjects put their [smoke]
hoods on while the smoke in
the cabin was building up, but
before the evacuation [donning
“We want people to get out of
the smoke hoods] was comthe airplane quickly, and we
manded. This, it could be ar- Duram Emergency Escape Mask
think donning a smoke hood
gued, is probably realistic. The
will delay the process,” said Prest. Anxiety, dexterity
CAMI trials [see “Clearing the Air About Smoke Hoods”]
and motor skills could all lend a hand in delaying dondid not attempt to measure the donning effect.”
ning — and evacuation.
Vant reported in his paper that the majority of the par“It is far easier to motivate people to get up and to get
ticipants donned the smoke hoods within 10 seconds and
out than it is to get involved with each person donning a
that the “speed at which smoke hoods are donned is
smoke hood,” Prest said.
influenced by the motivation of the individual to don the
equipment, the ease at which such equipment can be
Vant said the nature of air travel makes it imperative
worn and the effectiveness of the instruction provided
that passengers have access to protective devices.
during the passenger briefing.
FLIGHT SAFETY FOUNDATION • CABIN CREW SAFETY • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1993/JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1994
19
“The airline industry tells passengers what to do, when to
do it, where to do it,” he said.41 “Passengers are controlled,
and in a small, confined space, that is not unreasonable.
The problem with an aviation fire is it sometimes occurs
without the people on the flight deck knowing about it.
Protective equipment needs to by controlled by the passengers — the flight deck [crew] may not know what is going on.”
Vant said that researchers face difficulties in obtaining factual and reliable information for
evacuation models, although there
are many unsupported accounts
of what happens in aircraft fires.
He said that he believed that
smoke hoods will become more
necessary as time passes — and
air traffic increases.
“The danger always increases
as traffic increases,” he said,
“Air [aircraft] fire has not disappeared.”
Vant said that he carries a smoke
hood when he travels. “Of course,
I do [carry a smoke hood], as
do all [U.K.] air investigation
officers I know.”
“We sense a lack of will on the part of the CAA, coupled
with an attitude that either smoke hoods or watermist
systems represent the answer,” the committe’s report
said. “We have been convinced by arguments put to us
by the Air Safety Group [a group of former aviation
professionals, according to Victor Brennan, the British
42
Embassy’s civil air attaché in Washington, D.C. ] that
‘smoke hoods and watermist systems go hand-in-hand.’
But whilst the installation of watermist systems will
take many years, smoke hoods
43
could soon be made available.”
[Cabin watermist/water-spray
systems use a dedicated onboard
water supply to delay fire penetration and to limit the development of fire in a cabin. When
the system is activated, water
is sprayed into the cabin, lavatories, galleys, pressure bulkheads and other areas. (See
“Cabin Water-spray System
Promises Better Crash Survivability,” Cabin Crew Safety, January/February 1992.)]
The Transport Committee added:
“We see a pressing need for
smoke hoods and are concerned
Vant, who participated in the
by the CAA’s apparent disin1988 conference at Linacre Colterest in them. Even if the CAA’s
lege, said that no model has been
stringent specification [see
presented to replace the one used
“Clearing the Air About Smoke
by the CAA’s Smoke hoods: net Plus 10 Filter Breathing Unit
Hoods”] is met, the Authority
safety benefit analysis. He said
has given no firm commitment
that is because of a lack of data, and that such data might
to make mandatory their carriage on U.K.-registered airnot be available for some time.
craft. ... We recommend the mandatory carriage by U.K.registered aircraft of the best smoke hoods currently
“[In an actual fire emergency] no one is around with a
available. This should be implemented without further
stopwatch; they are hightailing it out of there,” he said. But
delay.”
the lack of a realistic model does not diminish the necessity
of having smoke hoods on aircraft for passengers, accordThe CAA disagreed. Three months later, in April 1991, the
ing to Vant.
CAA issued a report, Improving Passenger Survivability
in Aircraft Fires: A Review, which remains its most recent
“Cabin smoke — two, three breaths and you fall over [incadecision on smoke hoods.
pacitated] and block the exit for everybody else,” he said.
“The authority’s view on passenger smoke hoods is that
Vant said that the data base used in the CAA’s report was
the subject cannot be viewed in isolation,” said the CAA.44
flawed, and that as a result, the study itself was flawed.
“If it is possible to prevent a fire, steps must be taken to do
so. If a fire does start, then means must be provided to
“I would contend that this report that they [smoke hoods]
fight it and measures taken to ensure the best possible
will only save ‘x number’ of lives is defective,” he said.
chances of survival following an accident.”
In January 1991, the Transport Committee of the British
Parliament’s House of Commons issued Aircraft Cabin
Safety, a report that urged the use of smoke hoods and
criticized the CAA for its apparent disinterest in them.
20
The report cited the various steps to suppress or contain
aircraft fires, which in turn had reduced the potential for
smoke hoods to save “about one life per year worldwide,
even on the unrealistic assumption that smoke hoods would
FLIGHT SAFETY FOUNDATION • CABIN CREW SAFETY • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1993/JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1994
have introduced no additional delay in the evacuation. The
more likely outcome is that delays in the evacuation would
have led to the loss of eight or more lives per year.”
The CAA said that its decision was not rooted in the
technical design of passenger smoke hoods, but “mainly in
the unpredictable response of untrained passengers to a
strange piece of equipment in rapidly changing conditions
that causes professionals to argue against the value of
smoke hoods on transport aircraft.”
lead to increased loss of life, the Authority has concluded that it should not require the carriage of passenger smoke hoods in U.K. transport aircraft even if one [a
smoke hood] were to be available which met the specification. Furthermore, it should discourage any airline
from doing so voluntarily.
The CAA said that each passenger-survivor in an aircraft
accident “has to develop a strategy for his own survival. This
strategy must not be unduly complicated, otherwise precious
seconds will be lost. ... Do I put on a smoke hood or do I just
get out as quickly as possible? It would only take a few
passengers to hesitate over the question before a disciplined
and orderly evacuation becomes disorganized and chaotic.”
“The Authority is concerned that in a crash situation, with
passengers experiencing shock and perhaps panicking, any
delay in putting on a smoke hood, particularly by parents
of young children or partners helping each other, would
reduce the benefit [of smoke hoods]. It would only require one or two people to get into difficulty with their
smoke hoods, for the whole evacuation to be in jeopardy. This, the Authority feels, is an unacceptable safety
risk and it is for this reason that it has decided not to
require the provision of passenger smoke hoods in
British-registered aircraft.”
Other factors that weighed against smoke hoods, in the
opinion of “professional safety specialists,” said the CAA,
were that:
The AAIB’s Trimble disagrees: “In adopting the posture
that these [smoke hoods] would delay evacuation, they [the
CAA] have damned the whole approach from here to eternity.”
• Passengers might be “lulled into a false sense of
security once smoke
hoods were donned” and
stand erect, which would
expose them to greater
risk of higher temperatures, rather than get as
low as possible;
Brennan said that the CAA will not be mandating cabin
water-spray systems because
they are not cost beneficial. He
added that “one of the reasons
that we [the CAA] didn’t go
for smoke hoods was because
we thought cabin water-sprays
were a better bet. I think it’s a
debate [about smoke hoods] that
will go on and on. It’s not the
answer that people who have
an interest in these things [smoke
hoods] want to hear.”
• Evacuation time could be
increased by impaired
vision and communication;
“Now it would be impossible
for the U.K. to mandate something unilaterally at this point.
It would have to be with the
JAA [Joint Aviation Authorities].
• Aisles could be blocked
by passengers who caused
delays by assisting children and spouses to correctly don the smoke
hoods;
• Training in donning
smoke hoods should not
be underestimated because
“untrained people do the
most improbable things”;
and,
“We’re back to square one,” said
Brennan.
Vant said that he agreed with
Trimble that authorities may have
locked themselves into a position against smoke hoods, and that they would be politically embarrassed if they reversed their decision. [Vant is
also a research consultant to the business school at The
Robert Gordon University and supervised Trimble’s thesis.]
Fuji Ace Mark II Emergency Escape Mask
• Passengers will “forget about smoke hoods,” based
on aircraft ditchings where only 50 percent of
water-flotation life-jackets have been used.
“In view of the risk that smoke hoods will jeopardize
the evacuation process and may in some circumstances
Vant said that the problem began when the CAA regulators
decided to pursue cabin water-spray systems, instead of smoke
hoods, as the better safety benefit in aircraft cabin fires.
FLIGHT SAFETY FOUNDATION • CABIN CREW SAFETY • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 1993/JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1994
21
“Now they are in the situation where they have to go
back and say that what they had proposed in the beginning was right all along. They would give anything for
someone to give them a way out,” he said.
But he acknowledged that the issue of smoke-hood use
will remain emotionally charged for some time. “I have
never encountered a more controversial subject [in aircraft fire safety],” Sarkos said.
But the CAA’s Denis Warren, in an article published in a
1992 issue of the FAA’s now-defunct Aviation Safety Journal, wrote: “In reality there will
inevitably be some delay caused
by the donning of smoke hoods
and the evacuation will be slower.
The analysis shows that if this is
taken into account, there would
be a reduced benefit overall, and
in some accidents additional loss
of life was likely.
Vant, who has access to the fire simulator at the Fire and
Emergency Center in Montrose through the Aviation Study
Group at Linacre College, said
that the simulator model is about
the size of a Chinook helicopter fuselage. [The Chinook
helicopter’s interior is 30.5-feet
(9.3-meters) long and has a mean
width of 7.5 feet (2.3 meters).46]
Vant said that the center is owned
by a consortium of offshore oil
companies, and that they use
the fuselage model to train people
how to escape from burning
helicopters. 47
“Worse still, if some passengers had donned their [smoke]
hoods and others [had] not, some
of the latter may try to get back
to their seats to fetch theirs,
effectively blocking the aisle
and stopping evacuation.” 45
Sarkos also warned against delays: “The role of the passenger is to get the hell out of the
airplane as quickly as possible
using the nearest available exit.
Smoke hoods could potentially
be a counterproductive measure.
The model, which is in a barren area, can be tilted, and there
are steel seats inside it. During
a fire simulation, kerosene fuel
can be pooled around the model.
When the fuel is ignited, the
model becomes hot and smoky,
and a vastly more realistic environment than allowed in government evacuation tests.
Provita Smoke Hood
“In a lot of accidents, they have enough problems getting out of the airplane without donning something that
is foreign to them.”
Vant offered this solution to end
the controversy about smoke hoods: “Put the FAA and
the CAA guys in my simulator. That might change their
minds.” ♦
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CABIN CREW SAFETY
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