FAA may mirror EASA with aircraft exit rule

By Mary Kirby

US FAA officials will consider adopting a new requirement concerning self-help aircraft exits if and when the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) moves on a final rule.

"EASA is working on a final rule that, among other things, would require Type III exits [to] have a fixed stowage point, similar to other types of exits," says a FAA spokesman.

"This means that the Type III exits could not be removable hatches that require a person to find somewhere to place them (for example, on seats or on the wing)."

Often located over the wing, a Type III exit is defined by the FAA as "a rectangular opening of not less than 20in (50.8cm) wide by 36in high with corner radii not greater than 7in, and with a step-up inside the airplane of not more than 20in". If located over the wing, the step-down outside the aircraft "may not exceed 27in".

At present, a removable hatch is the typical Type III exit, except on Boeing 737NGs, which have a top-hinged hatch.

"The FAA has provided input to EASA on their proposal" to disallow removable hatches for Type III exits, says the FAA spokesman.

"If [and] when the EASA rule becomes final, FAA will consider whether to adopt a similar requirement."

In advance of this rulemaking, Bombardier has decided to implement automatic, outward popping over-wing exit doors on its new CSeries twinjet, which is expected to enter into service in the latter part of 2013.

Safety regulators in Europe and the USA "are proposing that all new designs have automatic ones so we've just made that baseline on the airplane, kind of thinking ahead", says CSeries programme management director Benjamin Boehm.

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