updated 3/30/2006 8:18:26 PM ET 2006-03-31T01:18:26

Government safety investigators urged regulators Thursday to order fire safety measures taken aboard some Bombardier regional jets, saying there have been six fires aboard the aircraft within six months.

The National Transportation Safety Board said in a letter to U.S. regulators that none of the fires aboard the 50-seat CRJ-200s resulted in death, but that the potential exists for an uncontrolled fire to develop into a critical situation.

“The problems identified in the board’s letter must be corrected as soon as possible,” NTSB Acting Chairman Mark Rosenker said in a statement. “The potential consequences of these fires can be catastrophic.”

The NTSB’s recommendations are aimed at Bombardier, which is regulated by Transport Canada, although the Federal Aviation Administration often works with non-U.S. regulators.

The safety board said the fires have involved an electrical switching device. It wants Bombardier to find a way to protect the devices from short circuits caused by moisture, to separate all electrical power sources so flight instrument displays don’t go out and to evaluate whether the aircraft’s emergency procedures are adequate.

Bert Cruickshank, spokesman for Montreal-based Bombardier, said the company is looking at ways to prevent the fires and has already told airlines to implement maintenance procedures to make sure the cockpit displays always work.

“We’ve been involved and assisted and cooperated fully with NTSB, FAA and Transport Canada in determining the causes of these incidents,” Cruickshank said.

FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said the agency is working closely with Canadian regulators to fix the problem.

There are at least 1,000 CRJ-200 regional jets in the worldwide fleet, according to the company’s Web site.

The problem also affects another model with the same electrical system, the CRJ100, of which 226 were delivered, Cruickshank said.

The problem affects about half of the CRJ200s and CRJ100s, Cruickshank said.

The biggest operators of the 50-seat CRJ200s are Delta Connection, with 230 aircraft, and Lufthansa CityLine of Germany, with 65 jets, according to the Web site. Other airlines that fly them are Air Wisconsin, Air Canada, Atlantic Coast Airlines, Air Nostrum, Horizon Air, Mesa Air and Northwest Airlink.

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