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747 Aircraft (Safety Exits)

Volume 79: debated on Wednesday 22 May 1985

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asked the Secretary of State for Transport if the Civil Aviation Authority will reconsider its assessment of British Airways' proposal to reduce the number of safety exits from 747s by two, in the light of the report by the United States National Transport Safety Board's view, that elimination of the mid-fuselage escape doors creates a serious risk that evacuation will not take place in an even manner and could significantly reduce the safety of the aircraft.

The CAA informs me that when it granted the certificate of airworthiness for the Boeing 747 with five main emergency exits per side, it met its requirement that a full load of passengers should be evacuated in not more than 90 seconds, using only half the total number of exits. The aircraft with currently approved United Kingdom seating layouts, including the small increase requested by British Airways, also meets the requirement without the centre doors. Thus evacuation through the smaller number of exits can still be completed within the period specified for passenger aircraft in general, and there is no regulatory ground for refusing approval.