FAA Issues Special Conditions for Novel Jet Design's Fire Protections

An unusual jet aircraft design submitted by Brazil's Embraer has prompted the FAA to issue special conditions to ensure the design contains adequate protections against fires. The Embraer EMB-500 will have two aft-mounted turbofan engines located on pylons that will not be in the pilots' field of view, making them more difficult to detect visually. This makes the ability to extinguish an engine fire on the jet "extremely critical," according to the Jan. 18 Federal Register notice signed by FAA's acting manager of certification for small airplanes, John Colomy. The notice asked for comments by Feb. 19.

The EMB-500 is a normal category, low-winged monoplane with a maximum takeoff weight of 9,700 pounds and maximum altitude of 41,000 feet. Its configuration is not covered by 14 CFR Part 23, which addresses aircraft fire protection through prevention, identification, and containment, FAA said. Containment, achieved through the isolation of designated fire zones, flammable fluid shutoff valves, and firewalls, has been demonstrated for only 15 minutes -- and the small, simple airplanes contemplated in 14 CFR 23 can descend and land with 15 minutes, allowing occupants to escape before the firewall is breached.

The notice listed the special conditions, which spell out the requirements the EMB-500's fire extinguishing system must meet. The fire extinguishing agents used must be capable of extinguishing flames from any burning fluid or combustible material in the area protected by the system, they say.

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