Sat, Mar 12, 2011
FAA Mandated The Change, Kept Potential Threat Quiet
The FAA recently required the nation’s airlines to
disable the oxygen generators located in all aircraft lavatories to
eliminate a potential safety and security vulnerability. The
airlines reportedly completed the work on the 6,000 aircraft in the
U.S. fleet on Friday March 4.
The FAA, along with other federal agencies, identified and
validated the potential threat, then devised a solution that could
be completed quickly.
In order to protect the traveling public, the FAA eliminated the
problem before making the work public. Had the FAA publicized the
existence of this security vulnerability prior to airlines fixing
it, thousands of planes across the U.S. and the safety of
passengers could have been at risk. This proactive measure will
help keep travelers as safe and secure as possible.
Rapid decompression events on commercial aircraft are extremely
rare. If there is a sudden loss of cabin pressure, pilots are
already trained to guide the aircraft to a safe, breathable
altitude as quickly as possible. Flight attendants are also
already trained to assist passengers to quickly access oxygen
– including those in the lavatories.
The FAA is asking operators to reinforce crew emergency
procedures to make it a priority to check whether the lavatory is
occupied following any event where oxygen masks are deployed in the
cabin. Operators may also choose to include additional
instructions on the briefing cards, on placards in the lavatory or
during the verbal passenger safety briefing.
The FAA and aircraft manufacturers are working to design,
certify, and install a new lavatory oxygen system on all of the
different aircraft types and configurations in the U.S. fleet.
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