NTSB Issues Report on Need for Carbon Monoxide Detectors in Airplanes

by | Dec 28, 2021 | Aviation Accident

The National Transportation Safety Board has released a report on the need for small planes to have carbon monoxide detectors on board.  The report is based on numerous prior crashes that were investigated by the NTSB, and provides safety recommendations to both the FAA and pilot groups.

The NTSB’s report notes that there have been numerous prior crashes where carbon monoxide poisoning occurred:

A review of NTSB reports between 1982 and 2020 identified 31 accidents attributed to CO poisoning (see the appendix for a list of these accidents). The data show that 77% of those accidents were fatal and led to 42 fatalities and 4 serious injuries. CO detectors were not found or reported in 30 of those accident reports. Although these accidents can be more prevalent in colder months when pilots are more likely to use aircraft heating systems, accidents related to CO poisoning happen throughout the year; of the 31 accidents between 1982 and 2020, 6 occurred between June and August. The FAA’s service difficulty report (SDR) database also showed at least 45 incidents involving a defect, leak, or failure in engine exhaust systems between 1993 and 2020.

Despite the prevalence of these incidents, the FAA does not require carbon monoxide detectors on enclosed-cabin aircraft with reciprocating engines.  The NTSB determined that carbon monoxide detectors are needed to identify the presence of the gas before a pilot’s judgment has been impaired.  The NTSB made the following recommendations:

To the Federal Aviation Administration:

Require that all enclosed-cabin aircraft with reciprocating engines be equipped with a carbon monoxide detector that complies with an aviation-specific minimum performance standard with active aural or visual alerting. (A-22-1)

To the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and Experimental Aircraft Association:

Inform your members about the dangers of carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning in flight and encourage them to 1) install CO detectors with active aural or visual alerting and 2) proactively ensure thorough exhaust inspection during regular maintenance. (A-22-2)

Spagnoletti Law Firm has attorneys licensed in Texas, Florida, and New York.  We have handled numerous cases involving the failure of necessary equipment on a plane or helicopter in both federal and state court across the country.  When it comes to aviation, safety must come first.  Our attorneys have extensive experience in plane and helicopter crash litigation and the skills needed to aggressively represent the families of loved ones who have lost their lives or those who have been seriously injured in a plane or helicopter crash.  The experienced aviation attorneys at Spagnoletti Law Firm can help you understand your rights if you or a loved one was a victim of a crash. Please contact us online or call 713-804-9306 or to learn more about your legal rights.