Requiring active fire suppression systems, improving early detection of fires and developing better fire-resistant cargo containers are three recommendations the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board has issued, seeking to reduce the frequency of in-flight cargo fires.
The NTSB has suggested that the Federal Aviation Administration make the inclusion of fire-suppression systems a new rule.
NTSB officials have looked into three fire-related cargo issues in the past six years — two involving UPS and a third centering on Asiana Cargo. The organization investigated the first UPS incident in 2006, which resulted in a damaged plane in Philadelphia, while the other two incidents resulted in crashes in Dubai and South Korea.
"These fires quickly grew out of control, leaving the crew with little time to get the aircraft on the ground," NTSB’s Deborah A.P. Hersman said in a statement. "Detection, suppression and containment systems can give crews more time and more options. The current approach is not safe enough."
Study of these accidents has lead to these recommendations. The agency also conducted cargo container fire tests in August 2011, finding that fire-detection systems are currently inadequate when a fire begins in a cargo container and that most containers are made of highly flammable materials, among other issues. - Jon Ross