UPS To Retrofit Air Fleet With Full Facemasks For Pilots


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UPS To Retrofit Air Fleet With Full Facemasks For Pilots

By Mike Mitchell

July 1, 2011 - UPS announced it would retrofit the cockpits of its air fleet with quick-donning, full-face oxygen masks with integrated smoke goggles. Installation of the enhanced pilot safety equipment comes at the recommendation of the Joint UPS-Independent Pilots Association (IPA) Safety Task Force. 

This comes after a UPS Airlines Flight 6 which was a cargo flight operated by UPS Airlines crashed. On September 3, 2010, a Boeing 747-400 flying the route between Dubai International Airport and Cologne Bonn Airport crashed close to Dubai airport, killing the two crew members.  

The aircraft had departed Dubai International earlier, but returned after reporting smoke in the cockpit. It was the first fatal air crash for UPS Airlines. The crash caused an examination of safety procedures protecting airliners from cockpit smoke. 

Back in April UPS had announced it would equip its air fleet with the Emergency Vision Assurance System (EVAS), becoming the first international air carrier to take such a step. 

In the event of smoke in the cockpit, EVAS helps maintain a pilot?s critical field of vision by displacing the smoke with a transparent Inflatable Vision Unit (IVU). ?EVAS allows pilots to see their flight path, vital instruments and perform the key tasks of flying in dense-smoke situations,? said Bertil Werjefelt, the president of Vision Safe, which manufactures the device. ?It?s a real safety enhancement and we?re very pleased to be working with UPS Airlines.? 

?Safety is an absolute priority for our employees, our customers? shipments and our aircraft,? said UPS Airlines President Mitch Nichols. ?These facemasks will be an important inclusion in our cockpit safety environment. That is why we continue to adopt solutions like these facemasks to further augment the safe operation of our airline.? 

Installation on UPS?s Boeing 747-400, MD-11, B-767 and B-757 fleets is expected to take place over the next 24 months, beginning with the MD-11 and 747 fleets. The UPS Airbus A-300 fleet is already equipped with integrated masks.


The new, one-piece facemasks can be put on with one hand in just three seconds, five times faster than the separate oxygen mask and smoke goggle units currently on most aircraft. The new masks meet performance standards for protective breathing equipment established by the Federal Aviation Administration and offer a better fit for crewmembers who wear eyeglasses. 

The full-face equipment is manufactured by Zodiac Aerospace, a French conglomerate whose Eros oxygen equipment is used by many carriers, including UPS. ?These facemasks will be an important inclusion in our cockpit safety environment,? said IPA and Safety Task Force member Capt. Bob Brown. ?Between the facemasks and the recent addition of the Emergency Vision Assurance System (EVAS), the union and the company are very much in sync on flight safety.? 

Since last fall, the UPS-IPA Joint Safety Task Force has been researching strategies and technologies for improving flight safety. Focused primarily on in-flight fire mitigation, the group has worked extensively with the FAA, aircraft manufacturers, safety vendors and other industry experts. Research efforts point to tiered solutions for detecting, managing and suppressing in-flight fires on the flight deck, in cargo compartments, in unit load devices and even within boxes. 

The facemasks are the second task force recommendation to be adopted. In April, UPS announced that it would become the first international carrier to equip its air fleet with EVAS, an in-cockpit transparent inflatable vision device designed to allow pilots to see in dense smoke situations.

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