VI.A.7. Subpart K--Instrument and Equipment Requirements.
Instrument and equipment requirements are contained in part 121,
subpart K, and part 135, subpart C. The requirements are in addition
to the airplane and equipment requirements of part 91. The discussion
below emphasizes all new or revised equipment requirements except for
major equipment such as FDR's and airborne weather radar, which are
previously discussed in the "Major Issues" section of this document.
Notice 95-5 proposed to require that commuter operators comply
with part 121 airplane and equipment requirements except in areas that
were specifically discussed.
Sections 121.303, 121.305, and 121.307 require certain airplane
instruments and equipment. Some of the part 121 equipment is required
under part 135 only for IFR, VFR over-the-top, and VFR night
operations. Most of the airplanes used by affected commuters already
have these instruments as well as equipment required under part 135
(§§ 135.143 and 135.149). Under the proposal this equipment in these
part 121 sections would be required for all part 121 operations.
Third Attitude Indicators. Section 121.305(j) currently requires
a third attitude indicator on large turbojet-powered and large
turboprop powered airplanes. Notice 95-5 proposed to apply this
requirement to airplanes that would be operating under part 121 as a
result of this rulemaking.
Comments: Most of the commenters on this issue oppose the
requirement, primarily because of the cost.
According to RAA, part 121 does not include an equivalent to
§ 135.163(h), which requires dual attitude indicators which are
powered by two different and independent power sources for
nontransport category airplanes. RAA recommends requiring the third
attitude indicator only for new production large airplanes, deleting
the proposed retrofit requirement, and incorporating § 135.163(h) into
part 121 for nontransport category airplanes. RAA also recommends
considering an equivalent means of compliance for large nontransport
category airplanes, such as "Situation Awareness for Safety" devices.
Raytheon Aircraft and Mesa state that the requirement is
excessive for airplanes that already have two attitude indicators,
each supplied by a separate source of power. Raytheon and Big Sky are
concerned that the requirement might necessitate a redesign of the
Twin Otter International believes the requirement would be
extremely costly with little safety benefit. According to Twin Otter,
even if the attitude indicator were lost, the airplane would have
adequate performance and information to be operated without a third
Commuter Air Technology concurs with the proposal for all
aircraft operated under part 121 and points out that § 135.149
currently requires a third indicator only for turbojet aircraft.
United Express states that the FAA supporting data for a third
(independently powered) attitude gyro is based on turbojet
accident/incident research and not on turbopropeller accident/incident
data. According to the commenter, until the FAA can substantiate that
this will prevent accident recurrence in turbopropeller aircraft, it
should not be required. The commenter states that some aircraft, such
as the commenter's fleet of Jetstream turboprops, have a third
attitude gyro powered by the aircraft battery system. No information
has been provided, that the commenter is aware of, suggesting that an
independent power source will improve safety or accident statistics in
FAA Response: Section 121.305(j) currently requires a third
attitude indicator on large turbojet powered and large turboprop-
powered airplanes. Part 135 requires a third attitude indicator only
for turbojet powered airplanes.
The FAA's intent as stated in Notice 95-5 was to require all
affected airplanes to comply with the equipment requirements of
§ 121.305 including the requirement for a third attitude indicator.
The notice did not contain amendatory language to § 121.305(j);
however, to be consistent with the FAA's stated intent, the rule
language has been developed to include the intended airplanes and to
provide a compliance date.
In response to RAA's comment that part 121 does not have an
equivalent to § 135.163(h), which requires two independent sources of
energy, each of which is able to drive all gyroscopic instruments,
such an equivalent appears in § 121.313(e).
The FAA does not agree with the commenter that a third attitude
indicator is excessive for airplanes that have two attitude indicators
or that there could be little safety benefit. The final rule requires
a third attitude indicator in all turbojet powered airplanes and all
turbopropeller powered airplanes. However, the FAA recognizes that
retrofit installation of a third attitude indicator imposes a burden
which may require a redesign of the instrument panel. Therefore, as
with certain other requirements, the final rule provides for a 15-year
compliance date for turbopropeller powered airplanes having a
passenger seating configuration of 10 to 30 seats that were
manufactured before 15 months after the date of publication of this
final rule. In effect, this allows operators to decide whether to
retrofit these airplanes or phase them out. Turbojet airplanes and
newly manufactured turboprop airplanes must comply within 15 months.
Lavatory fire protection. Section 121.308 currently requires
lavatory smoke detection systems, or equivalent, and automatically
discharging fire extinguishers in lavatory receptacles for towels,
paper, or waste for passenger-carrying transport category airplanes.
The FAA proposed to apply the requirements of § 121.308 to airplanes
formerly operated under part 135 that are equipped with lavatories.
Section 121.308 would be amended to delete the references to transport
category. The proposed compliance section, § 121.2, required that
lavatory protection equipment be installed within 2 years after the
publication date of the final rule.
Comments: ALPA believes that the FAA should require installation
of the smoke detection system within 6 months of the effective date
rather than 1 year as proposed. This commenter also believes that
installation of the lavatory fire suppression system should be
required in all airplanes newly manufactured within 1 year of the
effective date rather than 2 years as proposed.
ASA and RAA do not object to compliance insofar as new airplanes
are concerned, but do suggest that the requirement be deleted as a
retrofit requirement. These two commenters state that the industry
estimated cost of compliance is $2,500 per airplane while Jetstream
estimates $4,000 per airplane.
Comair believes compliance would amount to $2,500 and 20 pounds
per airplane. The commenter asserts that compliance is not justified
for airplanes with 20 to 30 passenger seats due to the small size of
the cabin, proximity of a trained flight attendant with a portable
fire extinguisher, and the present smoking ban on domestic flights.
Commuter Air Technology asks whether the proposed requirement
would apply to some of their products that have a side facing toilet
separated from the cabin only by a curtain.
Jetstream states that there is no evidence to support the
introduction of fire suppression of toilet receptacles on commuter
aircraft. According to the commenter, the lavatory receptacles are
already designed to contain a fire within the compartment; and, due to
the small cabin size of those airplanes, the lavatory is readily
accessible to the crew if the need to suppress a fire does occur. The
commenter estimates a cost of $4,000 per airplane. Nevertheless, the
commenter does support requiring new aircraft to comply.
FAA Response: The FAA does not agree with the commenter's
suggestion that installation of smoke detectors should be done within
6 months and fire extinguishers within 1 year of the publication of
the final rule. This would not allow sufficient time for compliance.
The comments received do not contradict the FAA's understanding
that few, if any, of the airplanes with 10 to 19 passenger seats are
equipped with lavatories. The primary impact of the proposed
requirement for lavatory smoke detection and fire extinguishment,
therefore, would be on airplanes with 20 to 30 passenger seats
presently operated under part 135. (Any such airplanes currently
operated under part 121 are already required to comply.)
Contrary to one commenter's belief, the present smoking ban on
domestic flights does not eliminate the need for lavatory smoke
detection and fire extinguishment. On the contrary, the smoking ban
could increase the temptation for some passengers to smoke illicitly
in the lavatory and thereby increase the possibility of a fire
originating in that compartment. The presence of a smoke detector
serves as a deterrent to illicit smoking as well as a means of warning
when it does occur.
Contrary to the commenter's belief, the presence of a flight
attendant in the cabin would not compensate for the lack of a lavatory
smoke detector and fire extinguisher. A lavatory is designed with an
effective ventilation system to preclude normal odors from entering
the cabin. In the absence of a smoke detector, the ventilation
systems also precludes early detection of illicit smoking or a fire by
persons in the cabin. In addition, the materials typically contained
in the waste receptacles are highly flammable and could burn out of
control quickly if there were no automatically discharging
extinguishers. It is possible that a flight attendant would not know
the fire exists until it has grown to catastrophic proportions.
The cost estimates provided by two commenters appear to be based
on a misunderstanding concerning the qualifications of a required
lavatory smoke detector. Such detectors serve primarily to enhance
the capability of crewmembers to detect lavatory fires visually. They
are, therefore, not required to meet all of the performance and
environmental requirements applicable to primary detectors used in
isolated compartments, such as cargo compartments. Anything that
meets the ordinary dictionary definition of a lavatory would be
covered by this requirement.
Therefore, because the adverse service experience that prompted
the adoption of § 121.308 applies equally to any airplane, large or
small, with a lavatory and because the commenters' cost estimates are
obviously based on a misunderstanding of the required smoke detector
qualification, the FAA is adopting this requirement in substance as
proposed. The final rule has been revised to provide operators 2 years
from the date of publication to comply with the lavatory smoke
detector system and fire extinguisher requirements. In addition, the
rule states that operators of 10- to 19-seat airplanes that have a
lavatory must have a smoke detector system or equivalent that provides
either a warning light in the cockpit or an audio warning that can be
readily heard by the flightcrew. This will accommodate airplanes that
do not have flight attendants.
Emergency equipment inspection. Section 121.309(b) requires that
each item of emergency and flotation equipment must be inspected
regularly in accordance with inspection periods established in the
operations specifications to ensure its condition for continued
serviceability and immediate readiness to perform its intended
emergency purpose. Section 135.177(b) contains a similar requirement
for part 135 operators of airplanes with more than 19 seats. In this
section, the FAA proposed requiring affected commuter operations,
including those with airplanes of 10 to 19 seats, to comply with the
existing part 121 requirement. Other provisions in the proposal would
require affected commuters to install additional emergency equipment.
No comments were received on this issue and the final rule is adopted
Hand-held fire extinguishers. Sections 121.309(c) and 135.155
contain similar requirements for hand-held fire extinguishers aboard
airplanes. Part 121 requires at least two of the fire extinguishers
to contain Halon, or an equivalent, and mandates placement of the fire
extinguishers, while part 135 does not. In Notice 95-5, the FAA
proposed that affected commuters comply with the part 121 requirements
for fire extinguishers and that § 121.309(c)(7) be amended to require
that at least one of the fire extinguishers in the passenger
compartment contain Halon or the equivalent. No comments were
received on this issue and the final rule is adopted as proposed.
First aid kits and medical kits. Section 121.309(d) requires
that both approved first aid kits and approved emergency medical kits
be carried on board passenger-carrying airplanes. The medical kits
are intended to be used only by medically qualified persons, such as
doctors, who may be on board the airplane. Section 135.177(a)(1)
requires first aid kits to be carried on board airplanes with more
than 19 passengers.
The FAA proposed that first aid kits be required for all
airplanes with more than 9 passenger seats operating under part 121
and medical kits be required for airplanes that are required to have a
flight attendant. The FAA stated in Notice 95-5 that, after review of
the comments, the FAA might decide to require a medical kit for all
10-19 seat airplanes.
In Notice 95-5 the FAA pointed out that affected commuters would
have to comply with a recent rule requiring disposable latex gloves
for first aid kits and medical kits.
Comments: Six commenters disagree with the proposed requirement
to have first aid kits on 10- to 19-seat airplanes. Most of the
commenters cite lack of space and the lack of necessity for the
equipment. Commenters believe that the first aid kit would not
provide enough of a medical benefit to justify its cost. Two of these
commenters oppose the addition of latex gloves as part of the first
aid kit. One commenter believes that the equipment would place
additional liability on employees. One commenter concurs with both
Two commenters provide additional cost information for first aid
kits. One of the commenters estimates $1,500 per airplane and the
other estimates $1,500 without specifying the number of entities
involved (i.e., airplane(s) or fleet).
AACA agrees with the requirement for first aid kits on all
commuter airplanes whether a flight attendant is available or not.
According to the commenter, regardless of the size of the airplane,
inflight emergencies could occur and a first aid kit may be needed.
In the absence of a flight attendant, a crewmember or passenger could
use the first aid kit. The commenter also estimates costs of $4,359
for Alaskan commuter air carriers in the first year and $436 each year
thereafter to meet the requirement, but there is no explanation of the
Four commenters disagree with the required medical kits on 20 to
30 seat airplanes. These commenters cite lack of space and the lack
of necessity for the equipment. Three commenters argue that medical
kits should not be required on airplanes with less than 30 seats due
to the lack of trained personnel and the low likelihood that a medical
professional would be on board. One commenter believes that the
equipment would place additional liability on employees. One
commenter concurs with the proposed requirements.
One commenter provides a cost estimate of about $2,000 per
airplane for the medical kit requirement. However, the cost estimate
is not supported by any documentation.
FAA Response: The FAA maintains that certain of these
requirements are necessary to enhance safety. The ability to respond
in the early stages of a medical emergency is critical and could save
lives in the event of an in-flight injury or an accident.
Additionally, the FAA maintains that latex gloves as were required by
a 1994 rule change (59 FR 55208, November 4, 1994) should be included
in these first aid kits because they guard against transmission of
disease through spilled blood. In sum, no commenter provides any
compelling reason to eliminate the first aid kit requirement,
especially considering that these airplanes often operate in remote
areas where medical assistance may not be available. The FAA has
determined that emergency medical kits will be required for airplanes
requiring a flight attendant. For airplanes not having a flight
attendant, requiring a medical kit poses problems, such as a lack of
security, no one to monitor the use of the kit, and no one to check
the credentials of a person who professes to be a doctor and able to
administer the medical treatment.
The regulations allow flexibility in the location and mounting
methods of kits. Depending on the weight of the kit and Velcro surface
area, Velcro may be sufficient. Even if Velcro is not practical in a
particular instance, other low-cost alternatives, such as leather
straps with buckles, are acceptable.
Crash ax. Section 121.309(e) requires that each airplane be
equipped with a crash ax, while § 135.177 requires a crash ax for
airplanes with a passenger seating configuration of more than 19
passengers. Under part 135 the crash ax is to be accessible to the
crew but inaccessible to the passengers during normal operations. The
FAA proposed in § 121.309(e) to require a crash ax for each airplane
that has a flight deck separate from the passenger cabin and a
Comments: One commenter disagrees with the FAA assertion in
Notice 95-5 that the crash ax is useful only for egress from the
flight deck to the cabin in the event of an emergency. The commenter
says that the Airplane Flight Manual of one popular 19-seat commuter
airplane suggests that preparation for certain gear-up landings
include opening an overwing exit inflight, because even relatively
minor distortion of the fuselage in a small airplane can render exits
unusable. Thus, the crash ax could be used for prying open an exit.
Raytheon states that if a key lock is required as proposed on
lockable doors in 10- to 19-seat airplanes, then a crash ax would be
required. The commenter states that removal of the door would
eliminate the requirements for a lock and a crash ax.
A third commenter supports the proposal as written in Notice 95-5
to require a crash ax only in airplanes that have a separate flight
deck with a lockable door.
FAA Response: The primary purpose in requiring that a crash ax
be carried is to allow emergency egress after an accident if airplane
exits are unuseable. However, the FAA agrees with commenters that
there could be other uses for the ax including egress of the cockpit
After considering the comments and reviewing the proposed
requirement, the FAA has determined not to require crash axes on
nontransport category airplanes type certificated after December 31,
1964, primarily because these airplanes are not required to have a
lockable door. The FAA has determined that the lockable doors that
exist in nontransport category airplanes type certificated after
December 31, 1964, are frangible and obviate the need for a crash ax
on the flight deck. Also carrying a crash ax in these airplanes
creates a security risk since the ax would not be inaccessible to
Emergency evacuation lighting and marking requirements. Section
121.310(c), by referencing § 25.812(e), requires emergency evacuation
lighting for passengers when all sources of illumination more than 4
feet above the floor are totally obscured. This requirement applies
to all transport category airplanes regardless of how many passenger
seats they have. There is no corresponding requirement in part 23 or
in part 135 for airplanes having a passenger-seating configuration of
less than 20 seats.
Section 121.310(d) for emergency light operation requires that
each light required by paragraphs (c) and (h) must be operable
manually and must operate automatically from the independent lighting
system. As proposed, these requirements would apply to affected
commuters. In § 121.310(d)(2)(i) each light must be operable manually
both from the flightcrew station and from a point in the passenger
compartment that is readily accessible to a normal flight attendant
Section 121.310(e) requires that an exit operating handle may not
be used if its brightness decreases below a specified level. Section
135.178(e) contains an identical requirement for airplanes having a
passenger seating configuration of more than 19 seats. Under the
proposal the requirement would also apply to airplanes with a
passenger configuration of 10-19 seats.
Section 121.310(f) contains standards for access to various exit
types that presently apply only to transport category airplanes.
Section 135.178(f) is identical to § 121.310(f) for airplanes having a
passenger configuration of more than 19 seats. The FAA proposed to
amend § 121.310(f) to exclude nontransport category airplanes.
Section 121.310(g) (and its parallel requirement in § 135.178(g)
for more than 19 passenger seat airplanes) requires emergency exits to
be marked on the outside by a 2-inch band contrasting in color with
the surrounding fuselage. Most airplanes with a passenger-seating
configuration of less than 20 seats operating under part 135 are
already required to meet this requirement and, for those that do not,
compliance with this requirement as proposed would merely require
painting the bands around each exit.
Section 121.310(h) requires airplanes for which the application
for type certification was made before May 1, 1972, to meet the
exterior emergency lighting standards of § 25.812, in effect on April
30, 1972, or any later standards in effect if the application for type
certification was made later. The FAA proposed to require
nontransport category airplanes type certificated after December 31,
1964, (i.e., part 23 normal and utility category) to comply with
§ 25.812 in effect April 30, 1972, within 2 years after the
publication date of a final rule.
The FAA proposed that airplanes with a passenger-seating
configuration of less than 20 seats previously operated under part 135
be required to comply with the above-described emergency lighting
systems (that is, emergency exit signs, interior lighting, exit
handles, and exterior lighting) and, except for the marking
requirement discussed above, proposed a compliance date 2 years after
the publication date of a final rule.
Comments: Sixteen comments were received on proposed § 121.310.
All commenters oppose the proposal to retroactively require any
additional emergency exit signs or emergency lighting on 10-to-19
passenger seat commuter airplanes.
Several commenters state that the cost of retrofitting in-service
airplanes with an emergency lighting system would be much more
expensive than the FAA expected when the notice was prepared.
Six commenters note the size of the cabin area of these airplanes
and that no person is seated more than 8 feet (or two or three rows)
from an exit. One of these six also notes that no person is more than
12 feet from two exits.
Four commenters note that an emergency evacuation demonstration
is required for the certification of commuter category airplanes and
that these demonstrations have shown that the airplanes can be
evacuated, under conditions of total darkness, in less than 90
seconds. Two other commenters note that there is no known service
history or adverse accident data related to commuter operations to
support the need for this proposal. Therefore, all six of these
commenters believe there is no justification for the proposal and each
of them recommends that it be withdrawn.
One commenter believes that the current briefing on exit
locations and their use is sufficient and that no further action is
needed. Two commenters believe that the requirement in
§ 121.310(c)(3) to show compliance with § 25.812(e) does not add any
safety to these airplanes. They point out that the height of the
ceiling in their airplane is only 4 3/4 feet high and question the
need to comply with the provision of § 121.310, which requires
compliance with § 25.812(e). Section 25.812(e) requires escape path
markings for passenger guidance, "when all sources of illumination
more than four feet above the cabin aisle floor are totally obscured."
According to commenters, with a ceiling height of only 4 3/4 feet, it
is likely that the required exit markings are located less than 4 feet
above the floor and that compliance with §§ 121.310(c)(3) is not
Another commenter believes that the requirement in § 25.812 for
emergency lighting to operate for 10 minutes is not needed for these
airplanes. The commenter points out that the required emergency
evacuation time for these airplanes is much less than 10 minutes and
that this requirement should be adjusted accordingly. One other
commenter suggests that flashlights be made available. Finally, two
commenters acknowledge that emergency lighting may enhance safety;
however, they also believe that this enhancement in safety can be
provided by a lighting system that is less expensive, less complex,
and much lighter than the one envisioned by § 121.310. Accordingly,
they provide some suggestions for such a system.
Embraer, a foreign manufacturer of transport category airplanes,
believes that § 121.310(f) should also be amended to exclude smaller
(e.g., 20 to 30 passenger) transport category airplanes as well as
nontransport category airplanes. The commenter believes that a
passenger seat would have to be removed from its product for operation
under part 121 if smaller transport category airplanes were not also
excluded from this section.
AACA supports the proposed amendment to § 121.310(g).
The only other comment received concerning this issue was from an
individual who requests resolution of the issue of whether the 2-inch
wide contrasting band has to be on the fuselage surrounding the
emergency exit or on the exit itself.
FAA Response: Section 23.803 does require an emergency
evacuation demonstration, as noted by the commenters; however, the
demonstration is required primarily to compensate for the differences
in evacuation design features (e.g. aisle width, exit size, etc.)
required by part 23 and those of part 25. Like the demonstrations
required by part 25 for airplanes with more than 44 passengers, the
demonstrations are intended to evaluate the evacuation capability of
the airplane under standard conditions and are not intended to show
the evacuation capability of the airplane under the most adverse
condition that could be encountered. They are not intended, for
example, to demonstrate the evacuation capability of the airplane when
there is dense smoke in the cabin or when there is hazardous, damaged
structure in the vicinity. The applicability of the required
evacuation demonstrations to the need for emergency lighting is
Passengers must egress rapidly in the event of fire. Contrary to
the commenters' assertions concerning a lack of adverse service
experience, the FAA is aware of at least six instances since 1980 in
which passengers had to be evacuated because of fire from such
nontransport category airplanes or transport category airplanes with
cabins of similar size. There is no doubt that safety can be enhanced
considerably by requiring compliance with the emergency lighting
requirements proposed in Notice 95-5. Nevertheless, the installation
of such lighting is very costly.
In response to excluding smaller airplanes from the requirements
pertaining to access to exits, § 121.310(f)(2) states, in part, that
there must be enough space next to each Type I or Type II emergency
exit to allow a crewmember to assist in the evacuation of passengers
without reducing the unobstructed width of the passageway below that
required (20 inches wide). Part 135 contains the same requirement for
airplanes having a passenger seating capacity of more than 19 seats.
Since the commenter's product has more than 19 passenger seats
and numerous examples are already in service in this country, the
airplanes have presumably been shown to comply with either
§ 135.178(f)(2) or the identical text of § 121.310(f)(2). Thus, this
rulemaking would not impose any new burden on airplanes with more than
19 passenger seats.
Section 121.310(g) states that exterior exit markings "must be a
2-inch wide colored band outlining each passenger exit on the side of
the fuselage." Since the band is outlining the exit it would be on
the fuselage, not on the exit.
After reviewing the costs and benefits associated with the
proposed emergency lighting requirements, the FAA has decided to
revise the final rule as follows:
1. The floor proximity lighting requirements in
§ 121.310(c) will apply to all airplanes except non-transport category
airplanes type certificated after December 31, 1964. In effect, this
is not a change from current requirements. Affected airplanes with 10
to 19 passenger seats will not have to comply because of the small
cabin size, the probability that passengers would be able to find the
emergency exits without floor lighting, and the high cost of
retrofitting for these requirements.
2. The interior light operation requirements of
§ 121.310(d) do not apply in the final rule to nontransport category
airplanes certificated after December 31, 1964, since the requirements
of § 121.310(c) and (h) apply only to transport category airplanes.
3. The requirement for an illuminated exit operating handle
(§ 121.310(e)) remains as proposed. The compliance date for retrofit
requirements for 10- to 19-seat airplanes is 2 years after publication
of the final rule.
4. Section 121.310(f) was proposed to apply to airplanes with a
passenger-seating configuration of more than 19 seats. This remains
in the final rule.
5. The requirement for marking emergency exits on the outside in
§ 121.310(g) remains as proposed since compliance is relatively simple
and inexpensive for all affected operators.
6. The exterior lighting standards in § 121.310(h) are revised
to except nontransport airplanes type certificated after December 31,
Seatbacks. Section 121.311(e) prohibits a certificate holder
from taking off or landing unless passenger seats are in the upright
position. Section 135.117 requires only that passengers be briefed
that seats should be in the upright position. The FAA proposed that
affected commuters be required to comply with § 121.311.
Comments: One commenter objects to the requirement because the
pilots cannot assure compliance in a 19-seat airplane, especially
FAA Response: The FAA intended for those flights with flight
attendants to be operated in accordance with the current § 121.311.
For these flights on nontransport airplanes type certificated after
December 31, 1964, the FAA has included wording to clarify that the
pilot must only instruct the passengers to place their seatbacks in
the upright position. The final rule has also been revised to add a
new subparagraph to § 121.311(e) that provides that on an airplane
with no flight attendant, the certificate holder may take off or land
as long as the flightcrew instructs each passenger to place his or her
seatback in the upright position. This change is needed to clarify
what is required for airplanes that do not have a flight attendant.
Seat belt and shoulder harnesses on the flight deck. Section
121.311(f) requires a combined seat belt and shoulder harness with a
single-point release that meets the requirements of § 25.785. Part
135 does not contain a requirement for a single-point release system
although the FAA believes that virtually all commuter category
airplanes being manufactured today have such a system. To ensure that
this is the case for newly manufactured airplanes, the FAA proposed in
§ 121.2(e)(1) to require that airplanes manufactured after 1 year
after publication of the final rule meet the requirements of
Comments: One commenter concurs with the proposal.
FAA Response: The final rule remains substantively as proposed,
except that compliance is within 15 months after publication of the
final rule. However, to clarify that § 121.311(f) applies to newly
manufactured nontransport category airplanes, appropriate language is
added to that paragraph.
The final rule also revises § 121.311(h) to allow crewmembers for
affected commuters to release the shoulder harness if they cannot
perform their duties otherwise.
Interior materials and passenger seat cushion flammability.
Section 25.853(b) was amended in 1984 to require seat cushions to meet
greatly enhanced flammability standards. At the same time,
§§ 121.312(b) and 135.169(a) (but not for commuter category airplanes)
were amended to require airplanes already in service to meet the
improved seat cushion flammability standards after November 1987. In
the years that have passed since that date, the improved cushions are
credited with saving a number of passengers' lives.
The FAA proposed to require nontransport category airplanes type
certificated after December 31, 1964, to comply with the same seat
cushion flammability standards that apply to other airplanes operated
under part 121. The proposed compliance date was 2 years after the
publication date of the final rule or on the first replacement of the
cushions, whichever occurs first. The proposed rule also allowed for
granting deviations for up to 2 additional years when justified by
unique integral-seat cushion configurations.
The FAA also proposed that the interior components of
nontransport category airplanes manufactured after 4 years or more
after the publication date of the final rule must meet the same
standards that those components must meet when installed in transport
category airplanes with 19 or fewer passenger seats. Those standards,
which involve testing with Bunsen burners, are not to be confused with
the Ohio State University (OSU) radiant rate of heat release testing
required for large-surface area components installed in airplanes with
20 or more passenger seats. (See proposed § 121.2(e)(2)(ii).)
Comments: ALPA supports the proposed retroactive requirements,
including this proposal.
Fairchild and AIA present identically worded statements opposing
the proposed requirement that seat cushions would have to comply with
the flammability standards of §§ 25.853(b) and 121.312(b). In that
regard, they state that they know of no evidence that compliance would
provide a significant safety benefit in 10 to 19 passenger airplanes.
They do not believe that compliance would delay the spread of a fire
enough to be an important factor in survival. In that regard, they
note that the seats in smaller airplanes tend to be lightweight and
offer relatively little mass of material to fuel a fire. Also, they
believe that cabin fires are less likely to occur because the small
size of the cabin restricts the amount of carry-on baggage and makes
inappropriate passenger activity less likely. Finally, they believe
that the FAA would have proposed such rulemaking already if warranted.
NATA also believes the higher flammability standards would not be
effective in smaller airplanes. That commenter asserts the cost of
compliance would be $20,000 per airplane.
Commuter Air Technology observes that the Beech King Air
executive airplanes they modify for commuter air service would not
have to comply in their original executive configuration because they
have fewer than ten seats, yet would have to comply as modified
because they have more than ten seats.
Big Sky Airlines and RAA suggest that the compliance period
should be extended to enable replacement during the routine seat
replacement cycle. One of these commenters quotes a compliance cost
of $30,000 for each 19 passenger airplane.
Mesa does not express support or opposition to the proposal, but
states that compliance would entail $12,000, 36 pounds, and 10 hours
for a Beech 1900C, or $3,400, 38 pounds, and 10 hours for either a
Beech 1900D or Jetstream 3100.
No comments were received concerning the proposal to require
commuter category airplanes produced four years or more after the
effective date to comply with the Bunsen burner test of part 25
(§ 25.853(a)). One commenter states that the installation of interior
materials complying with § 25.853(c) would not improve the level of
safety of airplanes with 10 to 19 passenger seats.
FAA Response: The commenters focus on the cost of compliance and
the lack of a need for added fire protection in smaller airplanes.
In regard to costs, the commenters appear to have a misconception
concerning the scope of the rulemaking. The costs fall into one of
two categories--the cost of developing and testing suitable cushion
materials and the actual cost of replacing individual seat cushions.
In regard to the former, § 25.853(c) does not require each seat
cushion to be tested, nor does it require each seat cushion design to
be tested. Instead it simply states that each cushion must meet the
flammability standards. An applicant has the option of utilizing a
seat cushion material that meets the flammability standards; however,
most choose to comply by using a covering material that protects the
cushion from the fire. (The latter are usually referred to as "fire-
blocked seats.") Individual seat cushions or individual seat cushion
designs do not have to be tested if they can be shown to meet those
standards by similarity to other cushions that have been tested
previously and found to meet the standards. Advisory Circular (AC)
25.853-1, Flammability Requirements for Aircraft Cushions, issued
September 17, 1986, provides guidance in that regard. In the years
that have passed since transport category airplanes used in part 121
or 135 service were first required to comply, many different possible
seat cushion designs have already been tested and found satisfactory.
It is, therefore, quite possible to utilize a seat cushion material
or fire-blocking material that has already been shown to comply with
the flammability standards. In that regard, many of the affected
airlines are affiliated with major airlines and have ready access to
the same means of compliance adopted several years earlier by those
Contrary to some commenters' beliefs, the use of seat cushions
meeting these flammability standards is quite effective in the cabins
of smaller airplanes. Some commenters note that the amount of cushion
material is relatively small in 10- to 19-passenger airplanes. While
the amount of cushion material in those airplanes is obviously much
less than that in larger airplanes, it represents approximately the
same portion of the total flammable material in those airplanes as in
the larger airplanes. In addition to representing a large portion of
the materials in the cabin that are flammable, the foam materials
typically used for seat cushions are, by far, the most flammable of
all the materials used in the cabin. A secondary, but no less
significant, benefit is that cushions meeting these flammability
standards are much less likely to ignite and sustain a flame than
those that do not meet the standard. Precluding a fire from occurring
is obviously the best possible form of fire protection.
The FAA conducted a series of 12 full-scale fire tests at its
Technical Center at Atlantic City, New Jersey, using the fuselage of a
Metroliner. The cabin of the Metroliner is typical of those of the
part 23 Normal or Commuter Category airplanes with 10 to 19 passenger
seats. Under the test conditions, it was shown that using seat
cushions meeting these flammability standards, in lieu of the
flammability standards that would otherwise be applicable, would
afford passengers approximately 45 additional seconds in which to
The primary benefit of having seat cushions that meet these
flammability standards is to afford occupants more time in which to
egress in a post-crash fire situation; however, such cushions also
provide additional protection should an inflight cabin fire occur.
Contrary to the beliefs of commenters in that regard, the FAA is aware
of at least six instances in which cabin fires have been experienced
since 1980 in nontransport category airplanes or transport category
airplanes with cabins of similar size.
In their recommendation A-88-96, the National Transportation
Board (NTSB) recommended the use of fire-blocking materials on seats
in part 23 normal and commuter category airplanes. Fairchild, AIA,
and others state that the fact that the FAA has not previously adopted
seat cushion flammability standards for those airplanes is evidence
that they would not result in a significant improvement in safety.
The FAA has, in fact, initiated separate rulemaking in that regard
(Notice No. 93-71, 58 FR 38028, July 14, 1993).
The intent of Notice 95-5 was to mitigate the cost by allowing
compliance to coincide with the normal wear replacement cycles. Since
compliance can be achieved whenever the seat cushions or seat
coverings are being replaced due to normal wear, the cost of
compliance for each seat is just the additional cost of including the
fire-blocking layer along with the covering.
Based on the above, the FAA has decided to adopt the seat cushion
flammability standards of § 121.312(c), but to allow a compliance
period of 15 years after the publication date of this rule. The FAA
felt that the immediate cost of this retrofit would have negatively
affected the industry. By allowing up to 15 years, it should be
possible for all replacements to be scheduled within normal
replacement cycles. An additional benefit of a 15-year compliance
period is that certificate holders can coordinate their compliance
with this section with their plans for meeting other extended
compliance times, i.e., meeting the performance and accelerate-stop
requirements and installation of a third attitude indicator.
As noted above, the FAA also proposed that the interior
components of nontransport category airplanes newly manufactured 4
years or more after the publication date of the final rule must meet
the same standards that those components must meet when installed in
transport category airplanes with 19 or fewer passenger seats (i.e.
Bunsen burner testing). After reviewing the present requirements, the
FAA determined that the interior components of those airplanes are
already required to meet the same flammability standards for type
certification. Since the standards are identical, it is not necessary
to specify the flammability standards as an additional requirement for
newly manufactured airplanes. Section 121.312(a) has been amended in
the final rule to clarify the applicability of the flammability
standards to nontransport category airplanes used by affected
Section 121.312 provides the interior material flammability
standards for airplanes operated under that part. As described above,
the substantive provisions of that section are being retained, and the
provisions applicable to airplanes being brought over from part 135
are being incorporated. In this final rule, § 121.312 is reorganized
to highlight the applicable provisions and to provide greater clarity;
the appropriate substantive text has been retained. Furthermore,
appendix L is being added to part 121 to explain the regulatory
citations for the part 25 provisions that have been superseded.
Although those standards are not current insofar as new type
certification under part 25 is concerned, they are referenced in part
121 and remain applicable for compliance. The addition of appendix L
only clarifies existing requirements; therefore, it is adopted without
prior notice and comment.
Miscellaneous Equipment. Notice 95-5 specifically discussed the
proposal that would require affected commuters to comply with the
miscellaneous equipment requirements of § 121.313(f) and (g).
However, although not specifically discussed in Notice 95-5, §
121.313(c) pertaining to a power supply and distributive system would
also be required.
Comments: Fairchild Aircraft notes that § 121.313(c) requires a
power supply and distribution system that meets the requirements of
six sections of part 25. Because § 121.313(c) does not assign an
effective date to this list of part 25 sections, Fairchild assumes
that it is the current version of each section that would be
applicable. Fairchild also questions whether all airplanes currently
operated under part 121 meet the current standards of part 25. Based
on their assumption that their airplanes would have to meet current
sections of part 25 and the fact that SFAR 23 and SFAR 41 airplanes do
not meet those requirements, Fairchild proposes amending § 121.313(c)
to except nontransport category airplanes type certificated after
December 31, 1964, from this requirement.
FAA Response: The commenter has correctly identified the
sections of part 25 that are listed in § 121.313(c): however, the
commenter has apparently overlooked the alternative provisions
contained in that section. In part, § 121.313(c) also reads: "or
that is able to produce and distribute the load for the required
instruments and equipment . . . ." This additional text of
§ 121.313(c) allows the use of a power supply and distribution system
that performs this function regardless of whether it complies with the
listed sections of part 25. The commenter's proposed amendment is not
needed because § 121.313(c) already includes provisions for alternate
means of compliance. The commenter's products have already been shown
to comply with this alternative.
The commenter is correct in believing that some airplanes
currently operated in part 121 service might not meet the current
sections of part 25 listed in § 121.313(c). The issue is moot,
however, since § 121.313(c) provides for alternative means of
Cockpit doors and door keys. Section 121.313(f) and (g) require
that there be a lockable door between the cockpit and the cabin and
that there be a key for each cockpit door that is readily available to
each crewmember. Part 135 does not have such requirements. The FAA
proposed that the affected commuters be required to comply with the
part 121 rules if there is a door with a lock or a door that can be
retrofitted with a lock. (Curtains or accordion doors are not
considered lockable doors.) If a lockable door already exists or can
be retrofitted, the certificate holder would be required to provide a
cockpit key that is readily available to each crewmember.
Accordingly, the language of § 121.313(f) was changed to except
nontransport category airplanes certificated after December 31, 1964,
without a door. Transport category airplanes already are required to
have a door and a lock with a key.
Comments: Most of the comments received on this issue oppose the
requirement for a locking cockpit door and key. Several commenters
say that the cockpit door on EMB-120 airplanes cannot be locked when
the observer jumpseat is in use. These commenters are concerned that
strict adherence to the wording of the rule would require them to
retrofit the door, redesign the cabin, and probably remove a revenue
seat, all at a high cost. These commenters recommend that the EMB-120
be exempted from the requirement when the observer jump seat is in
use. One commenter states that some nontransport category aircraft
that will transition to part 121 do not have a cockpit door lock and
key and may not be able to install one. One commenter states that
operators will be required to obtain a supplemental type certificate
to retrofit airplane doors with key locks. Another commenter states
that this requirement would force operators to choose between removing
the high-quality cockpit door installed at great expense on BE 1900D
aircraft which provides protection from cabin illumination glare
during night operations, or installing and using a lock on this door,
both of which are contrary to safety. One commenter states that the
1900C and 1900D airplanes have frangible doors between the cockpit and
cabin to reduce distractions. According to the commenter, as
proposed, the rule would require installation of locks on those doors.
Finally, one commenter says that the wording of the cockpit door
requirement should be clarified to exclude 10 to 19 seat aircraft not
yet produced. According to the commenter, the proposal resolves the
problem for existing 10-19 seat airplanes. However, proposed §
121.2(f) would require all new airplanes to be certificated in
transport category. The commenter states that new 10-19 passenger
airplanes will have the same problem as existing nontransport category
types; that is, cockpit doors will neither be practical nor
appropriate. The commenter recommends amending § 121.313(f) to read
"... except that airplanes type-certificated for a maximum of 19 or
fewer passengers are not required to comply with this paragraph."
AACA notes that the language of § 121.313(f), which lists
required equipment for operating an aircraft, should be changed to
exclude airplanes that do not have cockpit doors.
FAA Response: The FAA maintains that the cockpit key and door
lock requirement should be retained to enhance aviation safety.
However, the final rule language is clarified to require compliance
only for airplanes with a passenger-seating configuration of 20 or
more seats. Therefore, the requirement for a door lock and cockpit
key does not apply to nontransport category airplanes type
certificated after December 31, 1964 even if the airplane has a
In response to the comments regarding the EMB-120, § 121.587
allows for the door to remain open, if necessary, to provide access
for a person authorized admission to the flightcrew compartment. This
allows for the door to be open if the jump seat is in use by an
authorized person. Section 121.587 applies to large airplanes which
includes the EMB-120.
The FAA acknowledges that the commenters correctly state that
keyless locks in airplanes with a passenger seating configuration of
20 or more would have to be retrofitted to work with keys.
Certificate holders that would have to retrofit their door locks would
incur a higher cost to comply with the requirement. Yet, the FAA
strongly believes that keyless locks which only lock from the cockpit
side pose a severe safety hazard if the pilots become incapacitated.
The FAA maintains that an extended time period to retrofit locks is
not justified in light of the many other new requirements which are
even broader in scope.
Cargo and baggage compartments. Part 25 (as referenced in §
121.314) contains requirements for cargo or baggage compartment
liners, smoke detection, and fire extinguishment for various classes
of compartments. The compartment classification system, also
duplicated in § 121.221 (which as previously discussed applies only to
certain airplanes type certificated before November 1, 1946), is based
on the compartment's accessibility for fire detection and
extinguishment. Part 25 was amended in 1989 to require the liners of
Class C and D compartments to meet more stringent flammability
standards. Section 121.314 was also adopted at that time to require
the improved liners in existing transport category airplanes on a
Part 23 contains no classification system or requirements for
compartment fire protection; however, a proposed rule to add
comparable requirements was issued on July 22, 1994 (59 FR 37620).
The FAA proposed in § 121.2(e)(2)(ii) by referencing § 121.314 to
require this modification for commuter category (or its predecessor)
airplanes manufactured 4 years or more after the publication date of
the final rule. However, in Notice No. 95-5, the FAA did not propose
to amend § 121.314, which currently applies only to transport category
Comments: Two commenters submitted identical comments concerning
this proposal. Both commenters believe that the cargo or baggage
compartment classification system of § 25.857, referenced in §
121.314, is not suitable for smaller airplanes with fewer than 20
seats and that the smoke detector and fire extinguisher requirements
are unreasonable and unnecessary in those airplanes. In that regard,
they note that many commuter category airplanes are convertible from a
full passenger configuration with a relatively small baggage
compartment to combination passenger/cargo (combi) configurations to
cargo only. They do not believe that it is practical to modify any of
the combi configurations to comply with any of the cargo compartment
classes defined by § 25.857. They assert there has been no history of
service problems indicating a need for such features.
No comments were received concerning compartments other than
those of combi airplanes. Also, no commenters responded to the
request in the preamble to Notice No. 95-5 for information concerning
less-costly alternatives such as requiring only liners and smoke
FAA Response: The FAA agrees that the present requirements of
§ 25.857 are not entirely suitable for airplanes with a passenger
seating capacity of less than 20 and the FAA has initiated a
rulemaking project to develop and propose similar standards that would
be suitable for these airplanes. In view of this project the FAA has
decided to defer this proposal for future rulemaking.
Fuel tank access covers. As a result of the 1985 Manchester
British Air Tours accident (in which a piece of metal from the
aircraft engine punctured the fuel tank access panel and created a
fire), § 25.963(e) was amended in 1989 to require that all covers
located in an area where a strike by foreign objects is likely must
have as much resistance to fire or debris penetration as the
surrounding structure. Concurrent with the part 25 amendment,
§ 121.316 was amended to require airplanes already in service to
comply with § 25.963(e) on a retrofit basis. These requirements
pertain to all transport category, turbine-powered airplanes. Due to
their smaller size and turbo-propeller configuration, part 23
airplanes generally do not present the same hazard. The FAA did not
propose to require part 23 airplanes to comply with §§ 25.963(e) and
121.316. Since § 121.316 applies only to "turbine-powered transport
category" airplanes, no rule change is needed. The FAA points out
that turbine-powered transport category airplanes previously operated
under part 135 would have to comply with § 121.316.
Comments: Raytheon Corporation submitted comments on the costs
of complying with § 25.963(e) for airplanes that in the future would
be required to be type certificated in the transport category under
FAA Response: As previously discussed, the applicability of all
present part 25 requirements to airplanes with a passenger seating
capacity in the 10-19 range for which a type certificate is applied
for after March 29, 1995, will be dealt with in a future rulemaking
action. Since Notice No. 95-5 did not propose any change for
airplanes in existence or for airplanes newly manufactured under
existing type certificates, this issue need not be discussed further
in this rulemaking.
Passenger information. Notice 95-5 proposed that affected
commuters would comply with the passenger information requirements in
§ 121.317. There was no preamble discussion of this section because
the FAA determined that current requirements for affected commuters in
§§ 135.127 and 91.517 were substantively the same as those in
Comments: Three comments were received on this section.
Commuter Air Technology suggests that seatbelts should be worn the
entire time for flights of less than an hour and a half. According to
the commenter, requiring seatbelts at all times while engines are
running would provide better passenger safety, remove an unnecessary
checklist item from the flight station, and eliminate the probability
of missing a flight due to an inoperative sign. According to the
commenter, each seat could be placarded and the co-pilot could make a
visual check of passenger compliance after closing the door hatch
prior to departure.
Two commenters state that § 121.317(a) should be revised to allow
permanently lighted no-smoking signs or conspicuous placards, since
smoking is prohibited on all flights.
FAA Response: Section 121.317 sets minimum requirements. Both
§§ 121.317 and 135.127 allow the use of no smoking placards that meet
the requirements of § 25.1541 if the placards are posted during the
entire flight segment. Section 121.317(a) requires passenger
information signs (fasten seatbelt signs and no smoking signs) that
the pilots can turn on and off and § 121.317(b) specifies when fasten
seatbelt signs must be turned on. To ensure that the present
requirements of § 121.317 are not interpreted so as to prohibit the
use of placards in certain airplanes, a clarifying amendment is
included in the final rule. New § 121.317(l) provides that a person
may operate a nontransport category airplane type certificated after
December 31, 1964, having a passenger-seating configuration of 10-19
seats manufactured before 15 months after the publication date of this
final rule if it is equipped with one placard that is legible to each
person seated in the cabin that states "Fasten Seat Belt" if the
flightcrew orally instructs the passengers to fasten their seatbelts
at the necessary times. Newly manufactured airplanes must comply with
lighted seat belt sign requirements of § 121.317(a) within 2 years
after the date of publication of this final rule. In addition, §
121.317(d) requires one legible sign or placard that reads "fasten
seat belt while seated" that is visible from each passenger seat.
Affected commuters must comply with § 121.317(d) at the time of
recertification under part 121, or within 15 months, whichever occurs
Instruments and equipment for operations at night. Section
121.323 requires two landing lights for night operations. Under the
proposal, the requirement would apply to all affected commuters.
While no comments were received on the proposal, the FAA had intended
to revise § 121.323 to except nontransport category airplanes
certificated after December 31, 1964, from having more than one
landing light. The exception was intended because small airplanes
with shorter wing spans can be operated safely with only one landing
light. The exception was inadvertently omitted from Notice 95-5 but
is included in the final rule.
Oxygen requirements. Sections 121.327 through 121.335 cover
supplemental oxygen requirements and oxygen equipment requirements.
The requirements are similar to the oxygen requirements in § 135.157
except that for certain airplanes, part 121 requires less oxygen.
Each affected commuter who would have to comply with part 121 oxygen
requirements as a result of this rulemaking should be able to operate
its airplanes in accordance with the oxygen requirements specified in
Comments: Fairchild Aircraft comments that the first aid oxygen
requirements of § 121.333(e)(3) are inappropriate for smaller commuter
service and that this section should be revised to exclude airplanes
with fewer than 20 seats. This commenter also asks that § 121.335 be
revised to allow oxygen flow rates based on the airplane's
certification basis rather than Civil Air Regulation 4b.651.
Fairchild finds that this would avoid unnecessary complication and
FAA Response: In the case of first aid oxygen, since Notice 95-5
proposed no flight attendant for the 10- to 19-seat airplane,
requiring the first aid oxygen that would be dispensed by a flight
attendant would not be logical. Since the airplanes operated by the
affected commuters were not type certificated for flight above 25,000
feet and since § 121.333(e)(3) only applies to pressurized airplanes
that operate above 25,000 feet, it would not as a practical matter
apply to commuter (or predecessor) airplane operations. The
requirement does apply to airplanes with 20 to 30 passenger seats, as
In the case of § 121.335, the FAA finds that parts 23 and 25
provide standards for oxygen that either meet or exceed the standards
in section 4b.651 of the CAR. Section 4b.651 has a built in deviation
Portable oxygen for flight attendants. Section 121.333(d)
requires that each flight attendant shall, during flights above 25,000
feet, carry portable oxygen equipment with at least a 15-minute supply
of oxygen, unless enough portable oxygen units with masks or spare
outlets and masks are distributed through the cabin to ensure
immediate availability of oxygen to each flight attendant regardless
of his or her location at the time of cabin depressurization. Part
135 does not have a similar requirement for portable oxygen for flight
attendants. In Notice 95-5, the FAA proposed that affected commuters
who use flight attendants in their operations and that operate above
25,000 feet be required to comply with the part 121 requirement. No
comments were received on this issue and the final rule is adopted as
proposed. For a related discussion on the use of oxygen, see the
discussion under "Oxygen Requirements."
Protective breathing equipment (PBE). Section 121.337 contains
requirements for equipping the flight deck and passenger compartments
of transport category airplanes with PBE. Part 135 does not currently
require any type of PBE.
Section 121.337(b)(8) (smoke and fume protection) requires PBE,
either fixed or portable, to be conveniently located on the flight
deck and easily accessible for immediate use by each flight crewmember
for smoke or fume protection at his or her duty station. In addition,
§ 121.337(b)(9) (fire combatting) requires that for combatting fires a
portable PBE must be located on the flight deck with easy access by
each flight crewmember for fighting fires. Also portable PBE in the
passenger compartment must be located within 3 feet of each hand fire
extinguisher. Both of these requirements provide that the
Administrator may authorize another location if special circumstances
exist that make compliance impractical and the proposed deviation
would provide an equivalent level of safety.
The proposal required affected commuters to comply with the PBE
requirements of § 121.337. To be in compliance, an airplane with a
passenger-seating configuration of 10 to 19 seats would have to have
at least three PBE: one PBE, fixed or portable, for each flight
crewmember at his or her station, and an additional portable PBE on
the flight deck for use in fighting fires. An airplane with a
passenger-seating configuration of 20 to 30 seats would have to have
at least four PBE: one PBE, fixed or portable, for each flight
crewmember at his or her station; an additional portable PBE on the
flight deck for fighting fires; and a portable PBE in the passenger
compartment located within 3 feet of the required hand fire
The proposal revised the applicability of the current rule to
include other than transport category airplanes. Proposed
§ 121.337(b)(9)(iv) was also revised to except airplanes having a
passenger-seating configuration of fewer than 20 seats and a payload
capacity of 7,500 pounds or less from the requirement to have a PBE in
the passenger compartment. The exception is needed because these
airplanes are not required to have a flight attendant; for these
airplanes, the portable PBE on the flight deck could be used by a
flight crewmember for fighting a fire.
The FAA proposed to require compliance with § 121.337 by a date 2
years after the publication date of the final rule. (See
Comments: Several commenters oppose the PBE requirement. These
commenters are concerned about the lack of space in the plane, the
high compliance cost, and the lack of benefits in having the
equipment. These commenters state that PBE equipment on non-
pressurized aircraft is not justified. Two commenters claim that
their current equipment (built in oxygen supply systems and masks)
ought to exempt them from the PBE requirement. One commenter
incorrectly believes that a PBE would be required for the cabin on
METRO aircraft (a 19 seat airplane). One commenter suggests that in
the interest of safety the FAA should reduce the compliance time for
PBE equipment to 6 months. Though commenters provide cost estimates
to install PBE on their airplanes, costs are provided only for 10 to
19 seat airplanes, which would not be required to have PBE in the
FAA Response: The FAA maintains that the proposed PBE
requirement for affected commuters is appropriate. There are several
safety benefits for requiring smoke and fume PBE. The use of smoke
and fume PBE required by § 121.337(b)(8) would help prevent the injury
or death of flight crewmembers from smoke or harmful gases.
The FAA contends that there is adequate space in the cabin of 20-
to 30-seat commuter airplanes to accommodate portable PBE for fire
combatting, and no major cabin retrofits would be required. With
regard to firefighting PBE, the FAA has determined that such equipment
is not appropriate for operations with 10-19 passengers. There are no
flight attendants on these flights and the pilots generally remain on
the flight deck to operate the aircraft during an emergency. In an
emergency, passengers will have access to a fire extinguisher and will
be able to assist in extinguishing any flames within the cabin.
However, passengers are not trained in the use of fire combatting PBE
and would not know how to operate such equipment. Accordingly,
nontransport category airplanes type certificated after December 31,
1964, having a passenger-seating configuration of 10- to 19-seats are
excepted in the final rule from the requirements in § 121.337(b)(9)
for having PBE's for combatting fires.
In response to other comments, the lack of a pressurized cockpit
does not diminish the need for PBE to enhance safety in case of fire,
nor can existing oxygen systems provide adequate protection for
fighting a fire. Approved PBE in the cabin must have a protective
hood and be fully mobile.
Due to the broad scope of this rulemaking action, certificate
holders will have to deal with many new requirements. Therefore, as
proposed, a consistent compliance period of 2 years is applied to all
affected airplanes for acquiring PBE.
Emergency equipment for extended overwater operations. Sections
121.339 and 135.167 require that airplanes engaged in extended
overwater operations (more than 50 nautical miles from the nearest
shoreline) provide the following: enough life rafts of a rated
capacity and buoyancy to accommodate the occupants of the airplane; a
life preserver equipped with an approved survivor locator light for
each occupant of the airplane; a pyrotechnic signaling device for each
life raft; a survival kit and a survival type emergency locator
transmitter. In addition, § 121.339 requires that unless excess rafts
of enough capacity are provided, the buoyancy and seating capacity of
the rafts must accommodate all occupants of the airplane in the event
of loss of one raft of the largest rated capacity. In practice, this
requirement is typically met by carrying a spare raft of the largest
The FAA proposed that the affected commuters that engage in
extended overwater operations should be required to meet the part 121
requirements. As with current part 121 certificate holders, affected
commuters can apply for deviations, and the FAA can decide, on a case
by case basis, if a deviation is appropriate. These deviations are
issued pursuant to § 121.339(a) which permits the Administrator to
allow deviation from the requirement to carry certain equipment for
extended overwater operations. Since there are few extended overwater
operations conducted by commuters, the FAA does not expect this
proposed requirement to have a significant impact.
Comments: Four commenters argue against the requirement for a
spare life raft on commuter airplanes. One commenter says that the
spare life raft is not necessary because seats can be equipped with
additional life vest storage pouches. Another commenter says that the
spare life raft is appropriate for larger airplanes but not for 10 to
30 seat aircraft. This commenter also suggests that the rule should
remain as presently written under § 135.167, and, on a case-by case
basis, the FAA can require certificate holders to obtain a spare life
raft. Another commenter states that spare life rafts should not be
required on aircraft with less than 20 passenger seats because the
requirement will increase operating costs and reduce passenger
revenues. A fourth commenter states that the cumulative weight,
space, and compliance costs will be significant for affected Alaskan
operators and that these costs cannot be spread across a large number
of passenger seats as can be done with a larger aircraft.
Three commenters state that the requirement in § 91.205 (b)(11)
for a pyrotechnic signaling device is understandable for general
aviation aircraft, but is impractical and superfluous for airplanes
operating under part 121 in scheduled air carrier service. The
commenters recommend that § 91.205 be revised to exclude airplanes
operating under part 121.
FAA Response: The FAA maintains that airplanes conducting
extended overwater flights need to carry enough life rafts to
accommodate all passengers in the event of the loss of the life raft
with the largest rated capacity. Such a requirement will enhance
safety in the event of an accident. Individual flotation devices are
not adequate for safety in the event of a water ditching because
passengers tend to separate in open water. A life raft enables
passengers to stay together. An even greater threat is hypothermia, a
sequence of physical reactions resulting from the loss of body heat.
In cold water, a person will experience increased difficulty with
mobility and intense shivering occurs. In arctic waterways, survival
time can be as little as 2 or 3 minutes. Thus, a spare life raft is
appropriate for affected commuters to enhance passenger safety. The
requirement in part 121 for equipping each life raft with a
pyrotechnic signaling device is identical to part 135 for extended
overwater operations. The recommendation to except scheduled air
carriers from the provisions of § 91.205(b)(11) is beyond the scope of
this rulemaking. Moreover, under § 119.1(c) persons subject to part
119 must comply with other requirements of this chapter, except where
those requirements are modified by or where additional requirements
are imposed by parts 119, 121, 125, or 135 of this chapter.
Therefore, the final rule requires commuter airplanes to adhere to
part 121 standards and provides deviation authority on a case by case
Flotation devices. Section 121.340 requires that a large
airplane in any overwater operation must be equipped with life
preservers or with an approved flotation means for each occupant.
Because it is practically impossible to operate any place without
flying over a body of water of sufficient depth to require some sort
of flotation means, § 121.340 has been applied so that virtually every
airplane is equipped with either flotation cushions or life
preservers. In parts 121 and 135, life preservers are required only
for extended overwater operations, (§§ 121.339 and 135.167).
Therefore, airplanes used in extended overwater operations are already
equipped with life preservers and do not need to have flotation
The FAA proposed that airplanes equipped with 10 or more seats
operating in scheduled passenger operations would comply with §
121.340 and accordingly proposed revising the section to delete the
word "large." To allow any replacement of seat cushions to be
coordinated with the seat cushion flammability requirements of §
121.312(c), the FAA proposed a compliance date of 2 years after the
publication date of the final rule.
Comments: The FAA received three comments that oppose the
requirement for flotation devices. One commenter opposes the
requirement because of the equipment cost and weight penalty. This
commenter determines that the seat cushions in the METRO aircraft
would not serve as effective flotation devices. The commenter
provides a cost estimate for acquiring and retrofitting individual
flotation devices for METRO airplanes. The commenter also states that
each flotation device for 10 to 30 seat airplanes would have to be
equipped with an approved survivor location light. A second commenter
states that the rule should allow exemptions for operations that do
not fly over or near large bodies of water. This commenter does not
believe that flotation devices would enhance safety. Finally, a third
commenter states that flotation devices are already required for
extended overwater flights for all airplanes by § 91.205.
FAA Response: The FAA concurs that if the seat cushions in a
particular airplane model do not serve as flotation devices, then
individual flotation devices would have to be acquired. If life
preservers are provided as individual flotation devices they would
have to have an approved survivor locator light as required by §
The FAA found during previous rulemaking that all flights
traverse a body of water of at least 6 feet deep during the course of
a year. Therefore, individual flotation devices or life preservers
for 10 to 30 seat airplanes are required on all flights.
Section 121.340(b) contains provisions for requesting an approval to
operate without the flotation means if the operator shows that the
water over which the airplane is to be operated is not of such size
and depth that life preservers or flotation devices would be needed
The FAA concurs with one of the commenters that § 91.205 requires
flotation devices for all airplanes involved in extended overwater
flights. Section 121.340 is clearly more restrictive.
Although the compliance date for meeting passenger seat cushion
flammability requirements has been extended to 15 years, the
compliance time of 2 years for providing flotation devices is the same
Equipment for operations in icing conditions. Section 121.341
requires certain equipment for operations in icing conditions. The
proposal would require affected operators to comply with this section.
In accordance with § 121.341(b), to operate an airplane in icing
conditions at night, a wing ice light must be provided or another
means of determining the formation of ice on the parts of the wings
that are critical from the standpoint of ice accumulation. This would
be a new requirement for 10- to 19-passenger seat airplanes.
No comments were received on this proposal; however, the FAA has
determined that the requirements of § 135.227(c), (e), and (f) need to
be incorporated into § 121.341 to accommodate certain affected
airplanes. These requirements pertain to operating limitations for
flying into known icing conditions if the airplane is not equipped for
icing conditions. Thus the final rule § 121.341 incorporates the part
Pitot heat indication system. Section 25.1326 requires a pitot
heat indication system to indicate to the flightcrew when a pitot
heating system is not operating. Part 23 currently requires pitot
heat systems for airplanes approved for IFR flight or flight in icing
conditions, but does not require pitot heat indicators. Section
121.342 currently requires a pitot heat indication system on all
airplanes that have pitot heat systems installed.
In recommendation A-92-86, the National Transportation Safety
Board (NTSB) recommended that small airplanes certificated to operate
in icing conditions and at altitudes of 18,000 feet mean sea level and
above should be modified to provide a pitot heat operating light
similar to the light required by § 25.1326. As recommended by the
NTSB, the FAA proposed to amend part 23 to require such indication for
commuter category airplanes (Notice No. 94-21, 59 FR 37620, July 22,
1994). This new requirement, when adopted, will apply to new type
certification and will not affect existing in-service commuter
airplanes or future production of currently approved commuter
In Notice 95-5, the FAA proposed to amend § 121.342 to require
nontransport category airplanes type certificated after December 31,
1964, to incorporate pitot heat indication systems. Affected
commuters would have to comply within 4 years after the publication
date of this rulemaking.
Comments: Three comments were received on this proposal.
Fairchild Aircraft Co., a manufacturer of commuter airplanes fully
supports the proposal.
RAA notes that FAA's cost estimate of $500 was significantly
lower than the commenter's estimate of between $1,500 and $25,000 per
airplane. The commenter further states that there was no known
history of accidents or incidents to justify the cost of retrofits and
recommends that the requirement apply only to newly manufactured
Commuter Air Technology, an aircraft modifier, notes that pitot
tubes are accessible to ground personnel who could ascertain their
proper function prior to flight. The commenter argues that because of
the short duration of commuter flights (usually 1 hour) failure in
flight would probably allow for continued flight to the next airport.
FAA Response: As a result of comments received in response to
Notice 95-5, the FAA reexamined the cost estimates of this rulemaking.
Those revised cost estimates, which are higher than those in the
proposal, are included in the Regulation Evaluation Summary of this
The FAA disagrees with the commenter's contention that ground
checks and short flights preclude the need for pitot tube heat
indicators. Airspeed indicating errors caused by unheated pitot tubes
have contributed to icing-related accidents. Airspeed indicating
errors are not always obvious to the pilot who may make decisions
based on the resulting erroneous information. A system which
indicates when the pitot tube is, or is not, heated will provide the
crew with the status of the system.
Therefore, the FAA is amending § 121.342, as proposed, to require
nontransport category airplanes type certificated after December 31,
1964, that are equipped with a flight instrument pitot heating system
to incorporate pitot heat indication systems within 4 years after the
effective date of this rulemaking.
Flight data recorders (FDR's). Notice 95-5 did not propose any
substantive revisions to current part 121 or part 135 flight data
recorder (FDR) requirements. According to the proposal, affected
commuters would continue to meet part 135 requirements while the FAA
is developing updated FDR requirements for both parts 121 and 135.
Comments: One commenter states that some of the current
equipment being used is providing inadequate records and that part 121
and 135 certificate holders should be required by December 31, 1999,
to install new FDR on all airplanes. He further states that industry
data indicates the changeover will cost $29 million divided by 454
million passengers a year, and that equates to 6 cents increase in
AIA and Raytheon state that following NTSB safety recommendations
on FDR's could result in as large an impact on the economic viability
for current and future aircraft in this category as the effects of
Notice 95-5. They further state that although additional information
from FDR's is needed, the safety recommendations as written would
require 56 to 84 channels of data on a 1900D and would be excessive
for most data requirements. This would result in a large redesign
effort and related increases in costs.
American Eagle comments that it believes that this equipment, as
well as cockpit voice recorders, is important in the post-incident
investigation process and, as a result, has installed FDR's on all its
aircraft even though not all aircraft operated under part 135 are
required to have them. It strongly supports extending the current
part 121 requirement to all aircraft with 10 or more seats operating
in scheduled passenger service. In addition, the commenter supports
regulations which would require such equipment to meet a new, higher
FAA Response: A recommendation for a rule change on FDR's is
being addressed by the Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ARAC),
and the concerns of the commenting parties will be reflected in that
separate rulemaking if a rule change is proposed. This rulemaking did
not propose any increase in channels for existing FDR's.
For clarification the proposed rule language has been revised in
§ 121.344 of the final rule to state that § 135.152 FDR requirements
will apply to airplanes with a payload capacity of 7,500 pounds or
less and a passenger seating configuration, excluding any pilot seat,
of 10-30 seats. The proposed rule had not specified passenger seating
Radio equipment. Sections 121.345 through 121.351 cover radio
equipment requirements. Part 121 specifies radio equipment
requirements for operations under VFR over routes navigated by
pilotage, for operations under VFR over routes not navigated by
pilotage or for operations under IFR or over-the-top, and for extended
overwater operations. The requirements are more specific and
restrictive than those in § 135.161. The radio equipment requirements
in part 121 are cumulative; that is, the regulations prescribe basic
radio equipment requirements for VFR over routes navigated by pilotage
and additional equipment for VFR over-the-top or IFR. Almost all part
121 operations are conducted under IFR. The proposed rule would
require affected commuters to comply with part 121 radio equipment
The final rule revised § 121.349 (radio equipment for operations
under VFR over routes not navigated by pilotage or for operations
under IFR or over the top) by adding a new paragraph (e) which
incorporates requirements in § 135.165(a). This change is necessary
because part 121 does not have comparable requirements.
Emergency equipment for operations over uninhabited terrain.
Section 121.353 prescribes the emergency equipment needed for
operations over uninhabited terrain for flag and supplemental
operations. The requirements include pyrotechnic signaling devices,
emergency locator transmitters (ELT's), and survival kits equipped for
the route to be flown. The proposed rule would require compliance
with § 121.353.
Comments: Two commenters state that application of § 121.353 to
affected commuters would provide relief from compliance with § 91.205,
which would reduce the standards. One of these commenters claims that
S-type ELT's as required by § 121.353 are useful for sea ditching but
are of no use over uninhabited terrain. According to the commenter,
they are intended for extended overwater operations, are immersion
activated, are not intended for fixed installation on aircraft, lack
any impact G-force activation feature, are very bulky, are extremely
expensive, and, by design, are not suitable for surviving situations
other than sea ditching. The commenter states that incapacitated
survivors on uninhabited terrain cannot expect any help from an S-type
ELT. The commenter recommends revising § 121.353 to state that the
provisions are in lieu of part 91 provisions and that an airplane
subject to part 121 must be equipped with an ELT or pyrotechnic signal
device in accordance with § 121.353 or § 121.339 (extended overwater).
RAA also states that the requirement for pyrotechnic signaling
devices is impractical for airplanes operating under part 121 and
recommends that § 91.205(b)(11) be amended to exclude these
RAA and ASA point out that the requirement for ELT's in
§ 91.207 exempts turbojet-powered aircraft and aircraft engaged in
scheduled flights by scheduled air carriers. RAA and ASA believe that
all jet-powered airplanes that normally operate under part 121 whether
or not they utilize propellers should be exempt from the requirements
of § 91.207 during flight operations under part 91, such as ferry,
training, testing, proving runs, which are incidental to or in support
of scheduled operations. RAA and ASA recommend revising §
91.207(f)(1) to read: "Large turbine powered airplanes."
AACA indicates that the economic analysis did not include the
weight penalties or costs for installing, maintaining, repairing, and
training for the use of survival kits. AACA also states that the rule
is unclear as to when the kits are required since "uninhabited areas"
is not defined. AACA recommends clarifying the applicability of these
requirements to Alaska. AACA, as well as other commenters, also states
that there is an Alaskan state law requiring extensive survival
equipment on board any aircraft operated in the State.
FAA Response: In response to the applicability to Alaska,
although scheduled intrastate operations within the States of Alaska
and Hawaii are currently conducted under flag rules, as a result of
this final rule, these will now be domestic operations and the
survival equipment requirements do not apply to domestic operations.
The FAA did not intend to reduce requirements for operations over
uninhabited terrain in Alaska or Hawaii as currently applicable.
Therefore, the title of § 121.353 has been revised and an
applicability statement added to include Alaska and Hawaii. Since
these operators have been meeting flag requirements, this revision
will not be a change for them.
The revisions requested to part 91 to exempt ferry flights and
other types of flight incidental to scheduled flights is a separate
issue from the requirements of § 121.353 which pertain only to
emergency equipment for operations over uninhabited terrain. Any
amendment to part 91 would need to be part of a separate rulemaking.
The FAA does not agree that the language of § 121.353 should be
revised to clarify that it replaces the requirements for pyrotechnic
signaling devices in § 91.205(b)(11) pertaining to aircraft for hire
operated over water beyond power off gliding distance to shore. The
proposed applicability of § 121.353 to affected commuters if they fly
a supplemental or flag operation does not affect the applicability of
part 91 requirements. The requirements of § 91.205(b)(11) would
continue to apply under applicable circumstances. Part 121
requirements are in addition to part 91, not in lieu of part 91.
The FAA does not agree with the commenter's claim that survival-
type ELT's do not work except in water ditchings. It is true that S-
type ELT's must meet certain buoyancy, waterproofness, and immersion
in salt water requirements. While many S-type ELT's employ water-
activated batteries, they are not required. Regardless of the type of
battery used, each ELT must have a means by which it can be activated
In addition, this rulemaking does not define "uninhabited
terrain." When the predecessor regulation to § 121.353 was proposed
in CAB draft release 58-24 in 1960, "uninhabited terrain" was defined
as "flights for long distances over frigid or tropical land areas for
which the Director finds such equipment to be necessary for search and
rescue operations because of the character of the terrain to be flown
over." When the rule was adopted, the wording was changed to provide
the Administrator more flexibility in identifying uninhabited areas.
Since implementation is on a case-by-case basis through operations
specifications, it was determined that the proposed wording was not
necessary. This provision has been in effect for over 30 years
without any problem about the meaning of "uninhabited areas."
Airborne weather radar. The proposed rule would require all
affected commuters to have airborne weather radar in accordance with §
121.357. Currently, part 135 requires weather radar for 20-30
passenger seat airplanes and weather radar equipment or approved
thunderstorm detection equipment for 10-19 passenger airplanes.
Comments: Three comments were received on the proposal. RAA and
AMR Eagle support the proposed requirement. AMR Eagle states that
commuter operations are typically characterized by high frequency
operations at lower altitudes with short stage lengths which
necessarily limits preplanning, planning, or executing a desired
deviation in flight profile because of changing weather. Hence a
flightcrew needs all available tools to conduct safe operations.
One commenter states that airborne weather radar is not needed in
Alaska because severe thunderstorms and tornadoes do not occur there.
AACA claims that Notice 95-5 is silent about the exceptions for
operations within the states of Alaska and Hawaii and within parts of
Canada. AACA requests that the FAA specifically address the issue
that airborne weather radar and airborne thunderstorm detection
equipment will not be required for operations previously excepted
under part 121 and part 135 (§§ 121.357(d) and 135.173(e)). According
to the commenter, there have been no meteorological changes in Alaska
since the regulation was originally written; therefore, this equipment
is no more necessary now than it ever was.
FAA Response: The FAA agrees with AACA that, in accordance with
§ 121.357(d), airborne weather radar is not required for airplanes
used solely within the State of Hawaii or the State of Alaska or that
part of Canada west of longitude 130 degrees W, between latitude 70
degrees N and latitude 53 degrees N, or during any training, test, or
ferry flight. This exception is retained in the final rule. In
Notice 95-5 the FAA did not propose to delete the § 121.357(d)
All other affected operators would have to have airborne weather
radar within the 15-month compliance period.
Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System (TCAS). Under the
proposal, affected carriers would be required to comply with part 121
TCAS requirements in § 121.356. There are no substantive differences
between part 121 and part 135 TCAS requirements for aircraft with
passenger seating configurations of 10-30 seats.
Comments: Fairchild Aircraft recommends that the words,
"combination cargo" be deleted from § 121.356(b).
ALPA says that the FAA should require TCAS II for aircraft with
fewer than 30 passenger seats, including cargo aircraft (which have
increased in recent years).
RAA recommends revising § 121.356(a) to require that "... each
certificate holder shall equip its airplanes with an approved TCAS II
traffic alert and collision avoidance system and the appropriate class
of Mode S transponder...."
Two certificate holders, Samoa Air and Inter Island Air, say that
TCAS is expensive and useless for their operating environment, i.e.,
airspace with little air traffic.
Fairchild Aircraft states that § 121.345(c)(2), which requires
Mode S transponders, is similar to a requirement in part 135 (§
135.143(c)(2)). According to the commenter, the Mode S equipment has
not been installed and the commenter believes that the FAA is granting
exemptions to the requirement for part 135 certificate holders. If
exemptions would not be granted under part 121, significant cost would
FAA Response: The intent of the proposed rule § 121.356 was that
airplanes with a passenger seating configuration of 10 to 30 seats
must be equipped with at least a TCAS I system which is the same as
the present part 135 requirement for the affected airplanes. TCAS I
systems are not required to be equipped with Mode S transponders.
As a commenter states, unrelated to TCAS I requirements,
exemptions to the Mode S requirements of part 135 are currently in
effect. Any affected commuters who hold an exemption from the part
135 requirement or from § 135.143, Mode S requirements, after this
final rule must reapply to be exempted from the Mode S requirements of
The commenter's recommendation to require TCAS for all-cargo
operations is beyond the scope of this rulemaking, as are the
recommendations to require TCAS II for all airplanes and to exempt
certain affected certificate holders from the requirement for
certificate holders to have TCAS I by December 1995.
Low-altitude windshear systems. Section 121.358 requires an
approved airborne windshear warning system for most turbine powered
airplanes. It specifically excludes turbopropeller-powered airplanes.
No comments were received concerning this section and the final rule
is adopted as proposed. Comments received on windshear training
requirements are discussed under subpart N.
Cockpit voice recorders. No comments were received on this
issue; however, the FAA is making a change in the final rule language
to correctly incorporate the current CVR requirements that apply to
airplanes with 10-30 passenger seats.
Ground proximity warning system (GPWS). Under the proposed
rule, affected commuters would have to comply with the GPWS
requirements of § 121.360. By the compliance date of this rulemaking,
all part 135 operators of turbine powered airplanes having a passenger
seating configuration of 10 or more seats would have to have GPWS.
All affected commuters are included in this requirement. The GPWS
required under part 135 would meet the standards of part 121.
No comments were received on this issue; however, the FAA has
discovered that the word "large" was not deleted from
§ 121.360. This deletion is necessary if the requirements are to
apply to all affected commuters. Accordingly the word "large" is
deleted in the final rule.