The tragic loss of the UPS Boeing 747 near the Dubai airport this past September 3rd, 2010 was, if recent news reports are correct, an avoidable accident. The NTSB states in its preliminary report that the pilots declared an emergency due to smoke in the cockpit.
Reports from pilots listening to the air-to-ground communication said that the pilots had smoke in the cockpit that interfered with their radio communications because they could not see the dials in order change frequencies. The smoke in the cockpit also interfered with the pilot's ability to see and resulted in the unfortunate crash of the UPS cargo airplane.
The ultimate tragedy of this accident is that, if the smoke in the cockpit was the ultimate case of the pilots' inability to navigate and make a safe landing, it was preventable if the UPS Boeing 747 were equipped with a smoke displacement devise known as the Emergency Vision Assurance system, also known by its initials EVAS.
EVAS creates a clear channel between the pilots' mask and the airplane's vital instruments and widow. When smoke enters the cockpit, the pilot takes EVAS out of its container, puts it on the glare shied, and it inflates quickly. The pilot can fly over two hours in this condition.
UPS pilots are members of the Independent Pilots Association which in turn is a member of The Coalition of Airline Pilots Associations (CAPA) a trade association of professional airline pilots representing the pilots of the Allied Pilots Association, Association of Shared Aircraft Pilots, Southwest Airlines Pilots Association, APA Teamsters Local 1224, and US Airline Pilots Association.
Airline pilot Associations have long supported a system that would provide for continuous pilot vision when unstoppable binding smoke invades an airline cockpit. CAPA wrote an open letter in May of 2010 asking for a solution to the smoke in the cockpit problem. You can read the CAPA letter.