the U.S. had been rare because
of the previous NFPA policy.
The decision to discourage the
use of glass in this country dates
back to at least 1990. The rationale
was that, in the event of a fire on
the ramp between the aircraft and
the terminal, people would be
frightened if they could see the
blaze and would balk at exiting,
causing delays evacuating the plane.
There also was an understanding
that steel enclosures were a better
heat shield than glass. The only
glass endorsed for use in boarding
bridges by the NFPA code was
limited to the control cab, from
which the operator positions the
bridge at the aircraft.
In 2007, the NFPA Technical
Committee on Airport Facilities,
chaired by Jim Doctorman, Boeing,
fire protection engineer, established
a task force to re-examine the
prohibition. Randy Pope, Burns &
McDonnell, senior vice president,
aviation and facilities, was named
chairman of the task force.
Burns & McDonnell was familiar
with the design limitations of the
previous policy. The firm has had
extensive experience providing
design, construction and consulting
services for airports from Los
Angeles to Philadelphia and beyond.
Glass boarding bridges had been
used widely outside the U.S. for
decades, and why not? They offered
great views and were much more
aesthetically pleasing than the
boxes that are prevalent at U.S.
The NFPA task force surveyed the
international standards and looked
at the assumptions that prompted
the prohibition in this country.
FAA standards for emergency
evacuations were examined,
along with how flight crews are
trained in the event of fire on the
tarmac. It was learned that fires at
gates are very rare. Furthermore,
passengers don’t have to leave
the plane through the boarding
bridge. They also can use aircraft
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axis_ad_ptz_qline_airportmag_hpc-h_us_1602.indd 1 2016-02-09 20:01: 39