FAA, responding to an NTSB recommendation, has issued a Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin (SAIB), No. NM-10-23
, recommending that all-cargo aircraft have accessible passenger exits clearly marked on the exterior of the aircraft to aid rescuers in gaining access. photo credit: Sean Broderick
Passenger planes are required to have two-inch bands outlining the emergency exits (as in the grey line around the door of the Virgin America A320 pictured above), but freighters are not. Evidence turned up during several cargo fire investigations, notably the February 2006 fire on a UPS DC-8
at Philadelphia International Airport, gave NTSB concern that first responders could be hampered if freighter emergency exits aren't easily identifiable from the exterior. The board issued recommendation A-07-103 (.PDF)
in 2007 to address the problem. It says:
Require all emergency exits on cargo aircraft that are operable from the outside to have a 2-inch contrasting colored band outlining the exit.
FAA's SAIB, by definition, falls short of a mandate. Instead, it recommends:
[T]hat each exit that is accessible from the inside by any occupant of an all-cargo airplane be marked on the outside with a two-inch band (that meets the requirements of 14 CFR 25.811(f)(1)) outlining the exit, including operating instructions for the exit. In addition, where practicable, we recommend that an accessible passenger exit for use by occupants of all-cargo airplanes be designated and marked accordingly.