Planes used by Mesa Air target of fire warning
Bombardier Inc. and airlines should be required to modify CRJ-200 aircraft to prevent onboard fires, a U.S. safety board told aviation regulators.
The 50-seat CRJ-200s are the jets that will be used for Hawaii interisland service by go!, the startup airline operated by Mesa Air Group Inc. Mesa said last week it plans to begin flying on June 9.
Of the 1,000 CRJ-200s in service worldwide, the biggest operators of the aircraft are Delta Connection, with 230 aircraft, and Lufthansa CityLine of Germany, with 65 jets, according to Bombardier's Web site. Besides Mesa, which operates as Delta Connection, other airlines that fly them are Air Wisconsin, Air Canada, Atlantic Coast Airlines, Air Nostrum, Horizon Air and Northwest Airlink.
The National Transportation Safety Board's recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration follow seven fires aboard the Bombardier aircraft, six in the last six months, the board said in an e-mailed statement. The board classified four of its seven recommendations as "urgent."
"The potential consequen-ces of these fires can be catastrophic," NTSB Acting Chair- man Mark Rosenker said in the statement yesterday. All the fires involved a switching device for electrical power generated aboard the plane, the NTSB said. There have been no fatalities from the fires.
One incident happened Dec. 8 as pilots for Delta Air Lines Inc.'s Comair unit climbed through 23,000 feet after departing Cincinnati. They smelled smoke in the cockpit and declared an emergency.
Six days later, pilots for SkyWest Inc.'s Atlantic Southeast unit declared an emergency while descending through 24,000 feet into Atlanta. The crew "was confronted with a cascade of failure events," including loss of electrical power, the smell of smoke, the loss of displays and a hot cabin temperature.
Bombardier, the world's third-largest commercial-aircraft maker, issued a bulletin in December advising CRJ-200 operators of an interim fix to prevent power loss to cockpit displays, said Marc Halloran, a company spokesman. "We have assisted and cooperated fully" with authorities investigating the incidents, he said.
FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said the agency has been aware of the problem and is working on a solution.