Smelly, Smoky "Mechanical" Problems
November 24, 1999
Web posted at: 3:44 a.m. EST
MEXICO CITY (AP) -- The Mexican
airline Taesa, accused of shoddy
maintenance practices by its former
flight attendants, has been grounded
by Mexican authorities two weeks
after the crash of one of its DC-9s
killed 18 people.
The government announced Tuesday
it was suspending the airline while it conducts a sweeping investigation,
looking into the carrier's policies, procedures, maintenance, training and
It did not say how long the airline would be suspended, but the grounding
right before the busy Christmas season is a blow to an airline that has
struggled with financial problems, labor complaints and safety questions.
Government investigators who inspected Taesa planes after the Nov. 9
crash found a "series of anomalies and incidents," said Deputy
Transportation Secretary Aaron Dychter Poltolarek. "Even as the company
has been correcting (the problems), they keep on recurring."
He did not specify what those problems were.
"It's important to stress that this measure is being taken ... to fully guarantee
the security of passengers and crew," Dychter said.
Officials from Taesa could not be reached for comment.
Taesa came under scrutiny when its Mexico City-bound flight 725, with 13
passengers and five crew members aboard, crashed into an avocado
orchard near Uruapan in the western state of Michoacan.
The plane had 91 passengers aboard when it departed Tijuana, but most got
off in the first two stops, Guadalajara and Uruapan.
Former flight attendants have charged that Taesa planes, including the one
that crashed, have had a series of mechanical problems resulting from
inadequate maintenance. The flight attendants, who claim they were fired for
union activities, had complained about mechanical problems both before and
after the crash.
The airline has denied the accusations, claiming any problems have been
But the questions about air safety have prompted federal police to launch a
criminal investigation into the crash.
Taesa's problems have continued. Two planes were forced to turn around
last weekend because of mechanical problems. One flight leaving from the
Pacific Coast city of Acapulco had problems with a generator, the airline
reported. The other had a loss of pressure after leaving the Caribbean resort
city of Cancun.
The airline has acknowledged that ticket sales fell 18 percent after the crash.
On Tuesday, the airline canceled two domestic flights and a flight to Laredo,
Texas, because of a lack of passengers, the Mexican government news
agency Notimex reported.
Taesa was founded in 1988 as an executive air charter service and it
expanded to commercial operations in 1991, using cut-rate fares to
challenge established carriers Mexicana and Aeromexico. It flies to 21
destinations in Mexico and four in the United States: Chicago; New York;
Oakland, Calif.; and Laredo.
The airline transported 1.73 million passengers in the first nine months of the
year and has 27 planes, Notimex said, citing government figures.
Dychter said other airlines have agreed to try to make up for Taesa's lost
01:35 PM ET 11/22/99
Hubble Repair Mission Delayed Again
Hubble Repair Mission Delayed Again
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) _ NASA's repair mission to the Hubble
Space Telescope has been delayed again, this time by three days
because of more damaged wiring found aboard space shuttle
Shuttle managers today set a new launch date of Dec. 9.
That will give technicians time to repair minor damage to
electrical wires that run between Discovery and its external fuel
tank, officials said. The problem was discovered last week. That
also will give workers the Thanksgiving holiday off.
The mission originally was scheduled for mid-October, but was
delayed along with everything else in order to fix exposed wires
found throughout the shuttle fleet. Liftoff slipped to Dec. 2, then
Dec. 6 because of additional wiring problems and a contaminated
Discovery's flight has taken on an added urgency: Hubble cannot
conduct any astronomical observations until the shuttle arrives
with new gyroscopes for pointing. Spacewalking astronauts also will
install a new computer, radio transmitter, battery voltage kits and
Nov. 19, 1999
Discovery damage not thought to be serious; pad fix possible
By Robyn Suriano
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA has found more damaged electrical wires
on shuttle Discovery, officials said Thursday, prompting new inspections
on the ship as work continues toward a Dec. 6 launch to the Hubble Space
Officials don't know yet if the checks and repairs will delay the
liftoff, said Kennedy Space Center spokesman Joel Wells. All the work
can be done while the shuttle sits on its launch pad, he said.
Described as minor, the new damage was found on wiring between the
spaceship, its external tank and solid rocket boosters.
Technicians found minor flaws in the insulation of wiring needed to
relay electrical power from the shuttle to the external fuel tank and
solid rocket boosters, Wells said. The discovery was made after cracks
were found in similar wiring aboard Endeavour.
The solution could be as fast and easy as applying tape for extra
insulation, or could be much more complicated, Wells said. All work can
be done at the launch pad, he said.
Originally scheduled in October, the flight was postponed when NASA
ordered wiring inspections on its entire fleet after shuttle Columbia
experienced a troublesome short circuit during a July launch.
"The important thing here is that we are operating in an
environment of heightened awareness over wiring issues," Wells
said. "We are being very meticulous in our inspections."
When launched, the ship is to carry seven astronauts to repair
Hubble's precision-pointing system.
Swissair Replaces MD-11
Swissair is replacing the Mylar insulation in
the cockpits and certain cabin sections of its MD-11 fleet with Tedlar,
a "particularly fire-resistant brand of insulation," the
carrier reported. The carrier said the work is being done on its own
initiative and is based on information from the continuing investigation
into the crash of SR 111. Swissair is taking advantage of D-checks to
install the new Insulfab 330 insulation blankets in strategic zones of
stripped down fuselage sections. -Aerospace
- The loss of Swissair
flight sr111 on Sept. 2, 1998, was a major event for the aviation
insurance industry and has contributed to a modest level of rates
strengthening in 1999, particularly in aviation reinsurance lines.
Polygon's net loss from sr111 was a modest US$2.3 million (after
reinstatement premium). The sr111 loss is a good demonstration of
the group's very conservative approach to underwriting.
May Propose Pencil-Whipping Rule
By the first or second quarter of 2000, the FAA
expects to come out with a new ruling on falsification of records and
deliberate false statements with respect to aviation maintenance. The
rule, which initially will be issued as an notice of proposed rulemaking
for comments, seeks to fill in the gaps and tie up the loose ends in
other related rules under Parts 21, 43, and the new draft 145.
Speaking on October 7 at an Aviation
Maintenance Critical Issues Forum, "Safety Versus Profit,"
Ken Reilly, manager of the FAAís suspected unapproved parts program
office, said the pending regulation would fall under Part 3 and would
not affect any existing rules that address document falsification and
false statements. He also said the rule would reach out to both
certificated and non-certificated personnel. "If someone deals in
aircraft parts and says something is serviceable when it is not, they
would be subject to violation by the FAA" under the new rule, he
explained. But the rule goes beyond just parts, covering "any
falsification of information to the FAA or maintenance people,"
Publication of the new rule, he added, most
likely will be accompanied by an advisory circular and other material
aimed at providing guidance to inspectors "so the overzealous ones
donít implement something thatís supposed to be done equally and
fairly." Finally, Reilly emphasized repeatedly that the maintenance
community should take a close look at the NPRM when it is published next
year and provide thoughtful feedback, looking carefully at the issues,
the cost-benefit, and whether or not the language is ambiguous. Such
comments, he said, are essential to turning this proposal into a useful,
Mechanics at the giant Boeing
aircraft manufacturing company have admitted making fuel tank
repairs without logging their work as required and debris has been
found in newly delivered planes The Herald of Everett reported
Asking that their names not be used, the mechanics told the
Washington newspaper that fuel tank repairs were consistently made
after inspections and were not recorded, voiding the validity of
leak checks, The Herald said.
In some cases planes left the factory with dented wings and fuel
systems, raising a risk that weak spots or leaks could develop, they
told the paper. Mechanics also have discovered rivet guns in wings
after final inspections were done.
As a result, the mehanics must now take classes and sign statements
that they understand federal regulations, The Herald said.
Documents cited by the paper also said the change was made to
bolster confidence among buyers of 747, 767 and 777 commercial jet
models, which are assembled in Boeing's largest plant about 25 miles
north of Seattle.
Boeing spokeswoman Debbie Nomaguchi confirmed that "integral
fuel-tank integrity" classes began at the end of October. She
said today that in some recent cases the putty that inspectors put
on fuel cell doors to show they have been inspected was misapplied
"This raised a concern as to whether proper processes... were
being followed 100% of the time," she said. "Where this
occurred, airplanes were re-inspected." The Federal
Aviation Administration requires that all fuel tank repairs be
listed in log books that accompany each plane along the assembly
line and become a permanent part of the plane's records.
Boeing was criticized recently by the National
Transportation Safety Board for a delay of nearly three years in
telling investigators of the TWA Flight 800 crash about a fuel tank
safety study the company made in 1980. Federal investigators believe
the most likely cause of the TWA crash was an explosion in the
central fuel tank of the Boeing 747.
The classes reflect a greater attention to questions of jet fuel
volatility and aircraft design, construction and maintenance, said
Chuck Eastlake, professor of aerospace engineering at Embry-Riddle
University in Daytona Beach, Fla.
"The design and maintenance assumptions around for 45 years
were kind of brought into question because of TWA 800,"
Eastlake said. "Jet fuel under certain temperatures and
pressure conditions isn't as hard to light up as everybody
thought... That's why avoiding leaks is so important."
A new state law may prevent the family of
golfer Payne Stewart, killed
in a Learjet crash, from suing the manufacturers of the plane. How
would this law
have affected the families of ValuJet 592? The Florida legislature
passed HB 775, which states that if a plane crashes in Florida and
if the plane is over
20 years old, there can be no lawsuits against the manufacturer. Do
information on, or a comment about HB 775 -- Send us your FeedBack:
MD-11 damaged by crew pull-up
Date & Site
30 Jun 99
Aircraft & Registration
Structural damage during emergency manoeuvre while descending
weather conditions unknown (daylight)
Deaths and injuries
Structural damage to elevators and associated structure was found
after reported GPWS escape manoeuvre apparently resulted in stall or
overspeed buffet. This damage has occurred on at least two other
occasions under similar circumstances in 1979 and 1997.
NTSB Identification: NYC00LA005
Nonscheduled 14 CFR 121 operation of FEDEX
Accident occurred OCT-05-99 at NEWARK, NJ
Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas MD-11F, registration: N606FE
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.
On October 5, 1999, at 0540 eastern daylight time, a McDonnell
Douglas MD-11F, N606FE, operated by FedEx as flight 1700, was
substantially damaged while landing at Newark International
Airport (EWR), Newark.
In interviews, the flight crew reported the en route flight and
approach to runway 4R were normal. The airplane was configured
the wing flaps at 50 degrees, and the auto-brakes were selected to
the maximum setting. The captain described the touchdown as
but not hard. He said he wanted to touchdown in the first 1,500
of runway. As the nose wheel was lowered to the runway, the pilots
felt a vibration. They reported it was similar to a deflated tire.
One of the pilots thought he felt the vibration was on the
longitudinal axis of the airplane. During the landing rollout
the center landing gear unsafe light illuminated. As the airplane
was clearing the runway, the central aural warning system (CAWS)
generated a voice warning about unsafe landing gear. After the
airplane exited the runway, it crossed Runway 4L, and stopped
on a parallel taxiway. The master caution light illuminated and
hydraulic system #3 was found to have an empty reservoir. After
consulting with the checklist, the captain elected to taxi
straight ahead at a slow speed, toward the FedEx ramp area.
The airplane was stopped after it entered the ramp area, and the
airplane was towed to the gate. Examination of the airplane
that the center landing gear, which normally points 15 degrees
was pointed about 45 degrees aft. The upper link of the drag brace
was fractured and the cap on the center landing gear retraction
cylinder had been pulled out. Both tires on the center landing gear had
contacted the bottom aft fuselage. The aft side of the landing
gear strut had pushed against the aft bulkhead of the center
landing gear well. The metal was deformed and torn in the area that had contact with the
center landing gear strut. Records from the airplane revealed the
landing weight was 435,820 pounds. A check with Boeing - Long
Beach Division (formerly McDonnell-Douglas Aircraft) revealed that
similar events happened twice in 1992. McDonnell-Douglas then
outfitted a test airplane and was able to duplicate the event
again. Based upon the findings from those events, the anti-skid
control box was modified, and operators were advised to install
the modified anti-skid control box. N606FE was delivered to FedEx
A check of N606FE revealed that it contained the modified
anti-skid control box. The drag brace was examined in the NTSB
metallurgical laboratory. The examination found features on the
fracture face that was consistent with overstress. Examination of
the flight data recorder revealed the initial touchdown was
+1.39g, which then reduced to +0.6g, and then increased again to
+1.59g. The two peaks were separated by about 1.6 seconds. The
flight recorder also revealed that spoiler extension started prior
to nose wheel touchdown, and the auto-brakes engaged.
Senator Chuck Grassley
the Iowa Republican to watch BOEING
IASA to watch Grassley
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Congressional investigators probing
Boeing failure to pass a 1980 report on fuel tank safety to
federal officials probing a 1996 TWA crash found no evidence of
a conspiracy to hide the report, a senior lawmaker said. Senator
Chuck Grassley the Iowa Republican who initiated the probe,
nevertheless said he
would maintain a close watch on the company. The 19-year-old
report on fuel tank heating in a military version of the Boeing
747 was prepared for the U.S. Air Force, which also failed to
pass it on to the National Transportation Safety Board probing
the 1996 TWA 800
explosion. NTSB believes an electrical fault touched off fuel
fumes in TWA 800's center fuel tank killing all 230 on board
just after take-off from New York. "The General Accounting
Office investigators found no evidence of a conspiracy on
Boeing's part to withhold the study," Grassley told
reporters. Grassley said if NTSB had the report earlier it could
have pressed the Federal Aviation Administration to order
changes in fuel tank operation and design sooner than the
proposals FAA issued last week.
AIR CRASH RESCUE NEWS:
November 7, 1999 - Smoke in
Cabin Diverts Flight
FORT WORTH, Texas (USA) - An American Airlines jet on a flight to
Puerto Rico made an unscheduled landing Sunday night in the Bahamas
because of smoke in the cabin, a spokeswoman said.
Flight 606, a Boeing 757 with 188 passengers and eight crew members
aboard, was diverted several hours into the flight, which departed
from Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport at 2:25 p.m, said
Minnette Velez, a spokeswoman in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The jetliner
landed safely at Nassau International Airport at 6:30 p.m. local time,
she said. Passengers deplaned normally and another plane was sent
Sunday night to Nassau to ferry them to their destination, she said.
The cause of the smoke had not been determined, Ms. Velez added.
Hi Lyn. Following is the article carried by www.asahi.com
The Asahi Shimbun is one of Japan's largest national newspapers
offices in the United States too) and their site is updated every
> REPORT BEGINS
to chide FAA on fatal flaws in MD-11s
A Transportation Ministry panel recommends formal complaint to the
Aviation Administration about system problems that contributed to
injuries aboard a 1997 flight.
A Transportation Ministry panel will admonish the U.S. Federal
Administration (FAA) for what it identifies as
"inappropriate" design of the
automatic flight-control systems found responsible for a severe jolt
Japan Airlines MD-11 jetliner in June 1997 that killed one and
sources told the Asahi Shimbun.
Observers said that it is unusual for a nation that does not make a
specific aircraft to chastise authorities of a nation that does.
Sources on the panel said the decision to send recommendations and
criticism to the FAA was made because the same kinds of jolts have
reported in other countries as the result of malfunctioning
The panel has been investigating the strong jolt that injured 12
passengers and crew members who were flying over Mie Prefecture on
the way to Nagoya from Hong Kong. One of the crew members died
in February of the effect of injuries sustained in the incident.
The panel's final report pointed out that JAL pilots were unable to
comprehend the aircraft systems because of
"insufficient" operating manuals. MD-11s are manufactured
by McDonnell Douglas, which merged with Boeing Co. in August 1997.
The panel's recommendations are to be submitted to Transportation
Minister Toshihiro Nikai, perhaps in November.
The panel specifically recommends urging the FAA to instruct the
manufacturer to modify the automatic flight control system of the
under which the nose of the airplane tends to be lifted or lowered
when the control is switched from automatic to manual.
The panel's report says the jolt was likely caused when the system
not respond to a sudden change of wind that forced the plane to fly
at more than 675 kilometers an hour.
That is the plane's top speed and the maximum endurance for its
operating systems. The system apparently overreacted to the pilot's
attempt to reduce speed and the nose was lifted higher than
necessary. The pilot's effort to bring the jet back to normal
flight position resulted in only five jolts, the panel's report
The recommendations to the FAA will also propose that the automatic
flight control system should carry an alarm to inform the pilots
when the system is switched to manual control. The pilot of
the MD-11 involved in the incident has refuted the panel's finding
of the cause of the accident. He said the nose lifted before
the flight control system was switched to manual operation from
> REPORT ENDS
PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (USA) -Arthur Alan Wolk, internationally-known
aviation attorney based in Philadelphia, on Friday, October 22, achieved a
landmark first domestic settlement from Swissair flight 111.
Today, Wolk announced that he is donating a portion of his fee to
establish a panel of unbiased experts to study and recommend critical improvements in
aircraft wiring and fire safety.
The settlement, reached on behalf of the family of 37-year-old Richard
Coburn, a husband and father of three, formerly of East Brunswick, NJ, is
hoped to be the first of many from the tragic plunge into the waters of
Halifax, Nova Scotia of a Swissair MD-11. Wolk and Coburn's widow both
hope to achieve some lasting benefit from the tragedy by working to improve
The cause of this accident is still under investigation by Canadian and
U.S. authorities. Privately, however, most agree that Wolk's assessment, made
within hours of the crash was correct - - that the disaster was
Wolk has been on the plaintiffs' steering committees of most of the
country's major aircrash disasters and has correctly identified the causes of each
disaster well in advance of the release of official findings. He is also
credited with many times providing vital information to government
Wolk, who is a member of the Swissair 111 plaintiffs'steering committee;
the group that is guiding all of the victims'cases through the courts, says
that this early settlement will accelerate the process of closure for
victims'families whose agony has been prolonged due to the lack of
settlements thus far.
"Now the Coburn family will be secure with Richard Coburn's legacy and can
begin the most important job of cherishing the memory of their wonderful
husband and father. By working to improve aviation safety it is our hope
that no other family will again suffer such unspeakable pain," said Wolk.
For more information, please contact Mr.Wolk at his office, 215/545-4220.
30 Oct 99
that Boeing 777 Generator Issue
Updated 1:03 PM ET October 28, 1999
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal regulators said Thursday they were examining problems in backup generators on the Boeing 777
aircraft that could affect the jetliners' permission to make some extended flights over water.
"We are obviously looking into this but have made no decisions as to the types of restrictions or anything like that," Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman
Kathryn Creedy said.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the FAA was drawing up a safety directive following repeated malfunctions and reliability problems affecting the
777's two backup generators which are designed to provide power if the primary pair of generators quit.
The newspaper said premature wear of parts, oil leaks and other difficulties had prompted a series of voluntary design changes by Boeing and its suppliers but they
had only been partially successful in overcoming the problems.
As a result, the FAA was moving to mandate tougher safeguards, including more frequent checks of the generators and considering some restrictions on over-water
flights under certain circumstances, the report said.
Boeing Co could not immediately be reached for comment.
First delivered in 1995, the twin-engined 777 is the newest in Boeing's series of wide-bodied planes.
Any restriction in its long-range over-water operations might make it
much harder to market to airlines for long Pacific Ocean routes.
Creedy declined to give any details of FAA deliberations but did concede the long-range oceanic use of the plane was a factor in the agency's thinking. "It increases
the interest factor," she said.
B747 Fire and Ditching near Mauritius
At the end of 1987, I was waiting to take over from an incoming crew in Mauritius. They were flying an SAA 747 Combi from Taipei loaded with freight &
passengers. NINE hours after leaving Taipei they called Mauritius declaring they had smoke in the cockpit and asking for an emergency descent to
14000'. (sound familiar?)
I rushed to the tower to see if I could be of assistance - the last we heard from Captain Dawie UYs was when he read back the QNH 12 mins after his
Later after pulling the wreckage from 3,000 meters of water and re-constructing it in a
hangar, the investigating authorities discovered the fire had originated in the cargo hold.
SA Flt 295 28 Nov 87
Cost Benefit Analysis in Aviation
20 Oct 99
"Self regulation never works in aviation because it is not bolstered by
any commercial incentive to exceed minimum legal standards. Perversely, when
a commuter operator flouts regulations many passengers benefit. Skimping on
maintenance allows on time departure. Skimping on landing minima allows on
time arrival. Skimping on structural weight allows the installation of
luxury cabin fit-out or in-flight entertainment systems. Aviation
statistics are such that no single infringement is likely to cause an accident, or to
be detected or to be punished; so infringements tend to escalate in
magnitude and number. The risks are hidden from passengers until the cost
is eventually borne by those on an accident flight. "
Martin Aubury (CAA)
UNITED in Adversity
18 Oct 99
Another emergency landing due to fire from: John Flatekval, Waldwick
Sun, 1 Feb 1998 14:21:40 -0500 (EST)
I boarded United flight 853 from Newark to San Francisco after a one hour wait to check in due to
computer problems. The Boeing 767 was not
full as evidenced by the number of empty seats in
connoisseur class. Four hours into the
flight, the smell of smoke permeated the cabin from the first class section directly behind the cockpit. I
figured there was an oven fire and all would be okay. Within a couple of minutes, the interior lights
turned off and the air ducts stopped. All passengers were
concerned, some more so than others, but the flight attendants continued their jobs as if nothing was
I noticed one flight attendant rush by with a
large fire extinguisher covered by table linens. The
demeanor of the flight crew led me to believe
that everything was fine. Finally, the head flight attendant
announced that all of the flight crew should
report to the front of the plane. At this point all on board
knew there was a serious problem. We were
told to that there was a fire on board and the pilot was
making an emergency landing. The passengers
were told to read the emergency landing manual and to
practice the emergency landing position.
The plane began to descend and turn quickly.
As we practiced the emergency position the flight crew
told us to remove all sharp instruments, glasses, and pens from our person. When they yelled "brace"
we were to assume the position. One of the
attendants was noticeably shaken and was instructed to
take her seat by the head attendant. At no
point were passengers told at which airport, if any, the pilot would be attempting to land. In fact the only
time the pilot addressed the passengers is when he said "
Flight attendants, three minutes to touch down. Prepare for emergency procedures". Not knowing
where we were, I decided to look out the window. Within 5 minutes the plane had dropped from cruising
altitude to several hundred feet above snow capped mountains. Again, there was no indication that we
going to land at an airport.
When the flight attendants yelled brace, we all held our breath until we felt the wheels touch the
ground. The plane quickly went to the gate and was surrounded by fire personnel. All passengers were
ordered off of the plane immediately. Luckily one of the passengers had been in the Salt Lake City
airport before, because no United employee addressed the passengers. All 57 passengers were left to
mill about the airport. The flight crew gathered in a huddle, knelt down and said a collective prayer of
thanks. The head flight attendant claimed that this was only the second time in her 29 years of service
that something this serious had happened. At no time did any United official address the emotional
state of the passengers, many of whom were noticeably crying and trembling.
[Details of subsequent mistreatment at airport omitted for brevity.]
A couple of items need to be addressed. A.) Your web site contained a similar experience aboard a
United 767 from Zurich to London on January 12, 1998. I think United should look into this problem
immediately before the next emergency landing ends in disaster. B.) United personnel should be
trained in addressing the emotional needs of the passengers, particularly after a near tragedy.
I have never been treated so poorly by so many different people in so many locations as I was by
United on January 17, 1998. I will request that my company not pay the business class airfare, and
rethink their carrier of choice.
Mon, 12 Jan 1998 18:56:10 -0500 (EST)
As a long-term UA customer, my faith in United was somewhat dented by an incident at London
Heathrow last week. I'd be interested if anyone has information about the "electrical fault" aboard
UA965 from Zurich, Switzerland to Washington Dulles on Jan 9, causing an emergency landing in
London? As the aircraft, a 767, started its engines in Zurich a continuous unfamiliar sound was heard
by passengers from one engine. The aircraft
remained on the ground at Kloten for several hours while
the crew reportedly contacted UA's principal European base at Heathrow. UA London apparently
advised that the flight should operate, but less than an hour after take-off (while luckily the 767 was still
over land) the forward cabin and cockpit began to fill with smoke. The crew announced an emergency
approach into LHR and the airplane descended very rapidly, other traffic having presumably been
cleared. Once the aircraft came to a halt in London, where fire trucks awaited it, emergency chutes
were deployed, but one failed to function.
The aircraft was evacuated and passengers were told by Heathrow fire crew to run away from the plane.
They were given blankets and waited in a grassy area for an extended period before they were picked
up by buses. The UA crew were reported uncommunicative and understandably shocked. Passengers
were then taken to an airport hotel, re-united with their carry-on luggage and offered psychological
counselling should they need it. Two were injured in the evacuation but there were no fatalities. I'd like
to know (a) what "electrical" incident actually occurred and why the plane filled with smoke, (b) what
concerns the crew had on the ground in Zurich about the airworthiness of the plane and why its
departure was delayed, and (c) if there were safety concerns, how were they dealt with or -- if
information from Zurich is correct -- why did the 767 attempt its flight after consultation with UA's
As far as I know this incident has not been widely reported in the press, though it is recorded on the
FAA's database. I am told that two attorneys aboard the flight are considering a case against United.
HERO - Hazard of Electromagnetic Radiation to Ordnance
Rodney Hoffman <Hoffman.El_Segundo@Xerox.com>
Fri, 21 Dec 1990 13:47:30 PST
Summary of a 30-column-inch article in the Dec. 21, 1990 'Los Angeles Reader'
WORLD'S MOST ADVANCED ARMY IS IN DANGER OF ZAPPING ITSELF
The Hazard of Electromagnetic Radiation to Ordnance,
Or, How an Electronic Accident Could Ignite a Gulf War
By Patricia Axelrod and Capt. Daniel Curtis (USAF Ret.)
HERO, a feature of the electronic battlefield the Pentagon prefers to keep
secret, can launch a rocket or crash a plane without warning. During the
Libyan air strike, it caused an American fighter bomber to crash and accidentally bomb friendly embassies and residences.
USAF Col. Charles Quisenberry says electronic emissions from US weapons "were
interfering with each other" in the Libyan attack, and that "we did it [the
mishaps] to ourselves." He also blames HERO for a series of UH-60 Black Hawk
Army helicopter crashes.
Quisenberry is conducting a classified 3-year study of HERO called the Joint
Electromagnetic Interference Study -- JEMI. Quisenberry says preliminary JEMI
findings are that combinations of US weapons transmitting radio waves at
certain frequencies can bring down an aircraft by putting it into an uncommanded turn or dive or by turning off its fuel supply.
The Pentagon classifies the electroexplosive device (EED), as especially
HERO-prone. The EED is used universally throughout the weapons industry as a
fuse trigger, activating everything from artillery to nuclear missiles.
Charles Cormack, Navy EED specialist, claims that the EED has caused 25 weapons
accidents, but civilian experts believe that there have been many more.
Defective wiring such as "Kapton," which can cause HERO, is reported to be used
on more than 50 types of aerospace vehicles.
Among many possible HERO-caused accidental firings, explosions, bombings,
crashes, etc., a worst case scenario might be the accidental explosion of a
Tomahawk or other nuclear device. The electromagnetic pulse following such an
explosion could then trigger HERO chain reactions.
Analog vs Digital Controls
Martin Ewing <EWING@Venus.YCC.Yale.Edu>
Thu, 6 Sep 90 22:27 EDT
Analog controls are not really the opposite of digital. The main difference is
that digital logic often uses saturated transistors and obscure data coding as
a representation, or analog, of a physical parameter. Digital systems do tend
to use an enormous number of transistors for even the simplest operations, but
they are integrated into a manageable number of chips.
Analog systems are plagued by poor gain calibrations, temperature drifts,
nonlinearities, and noise. Nonlinearities can result in saturation and
"latch-up" behavior. AC systems suffer from crosstalk, parasitic oscillations,
and lots of other ills. A component failure can easily produce as drastic a
change in output as a digital failure might.
The "advantage" of analog systems is that they don't have software. However,
they do have all the troubles listed above, which tend to limit functionality.
They also have circuit designers instead of programmers.
The safest control systems are passive ones, which use no analogs: reactors
that get less reactive at high temperatures and aircraft that fly themselves
with no control forces.
Martin Ewing, 203-432-4243, Ewing@Yale.Edu
Yale University Science & Engineering Computing Facility
Low-tech wins the day in airliner
<STORY_GLENN#TSII@comm.tandem.com> 27 Oct
89 11:50:00 -0700
The following is copied from our internal
"humor" distribution list, condensed from Flight
A DC9 with 104 people aboard made an emergency
landing in Colorado last week. The aircraft, Northwest flight 109 from
Minneapolis to Phoenix diverted to Monte Vista municipal airport after
losing both generators and the auxilary power unit in mid-air.
The aircraft landed safely on the 1,830m
runway, with no injuries, although it overan the runway by about 300m.
The airline says the captain was forced to use an axe to open the
forward cabin door, after the cabin began to fill with smoke. After
evacuating the passengers, the captain then had to walk to the terminal
and use a payphone to summon help.
Glenn Story, Tandem Computers
Cut cockpit wiring found on airliner
Matt Welsh <firstname.lastname@example.org>
12 Jun 1997 09:04:10 GMT
AP via CNN's web site (www.cnn.com) reports on June 11, 1997 that "Cut
wires were found underneath the cockpit of a Pan Am plane undergoing
routine maintenance checks at Kennedy International Airport Wednesday,
but the safety of the plane was not compromised, officials said."
The remainder of the article is at
Interactive URLs are almost always valid indefinitely) although as
one expects from such a report there are little technical details
and a lot of hot air from 'officials' trying to cool the situation down.
M. Welsh, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.
Be careful not to let your engine control computers overheat.
Dr Peter B Ladkin <email@example.com>
22 Dec 93 21:20:52 GMT (Wed)
Flight International, 22/12/93-4/1/94, p11.
"Dangerous overheating in an Airbus Industrie A320 engine-starter
unit led to
complete in-flight engine-control failure [..].
The starboard [engine ....] suddenly wound down to idle power at
4,000ft (1,200m) in the climb from London Heathrow on 13 December,
Reversion to manual control had no effect because the circuit breakers
for the full-authority digital engine control (FADEC) and engine-interface
unti had tripped and would not reset. The aircraft returned safely
Heathrow. [...] Temperatures reached 400\degC inside the engine cowl,
damaging the FADEC wiring. The AAIB says that the engine wind-down
probably caused by short-circuiting, which gave false signals about
In October 1989 a similar [..] event led to the issue of the 1991
Service Bulletin. A Bulletin issued after the incident was not applied
[aircraft in this report]. The AAIB recommends making it mandatory."
I've been thinking about how 'Designated Alteration Stations' play dual roles.
Take SBA for example. On one hand, they were an aircraft retrofitter, and on the other hand, they were doing testing and approvals on behalf of the FAA.
Not only inspecting and approving other people's work, but perhaps their own as well. I understand the reasoning for this, because it's unrealistic for the FAA
to employ staff in hundreds of approving offices all over the country. But my concern is about the potential for a conflict of interest.
So how does the system avoid conflicts? Regulations.
"...Systematic showing of compliance to the FAA regulatory requirements to the design..." according to Ronald Wojnar (deputy director, aircraft certification
service, FAA). That means the approving technicians adhere to strict rules, and the FAA field office closely monitors them. As long as modifications meet
regulations prescribed by the FAA, the Designated Alteration Station-slash-Retrofitter can perform approvals without being in a conflict of interest.
Two problems remain:
You can't regulate common sense.
This was a relatively new appliance. What are the chances that there was a specific regulation in place saying something like: "The In-flight entertainment
network must not share electrical power from the same bus used by essential flight instruments and controls"?
Oops let me rephase that - how about this instead:
"Thou shalt not connect Essential entertainment accessories, like Gameboys, onto an electrical distribution bus used by Non-Essential accessories such as
Primary Flight Displays, Autopilots, and Artificial Horizons."
OK, fun aside, I read through a bunch of FAA regulations, and I couldn't find anything at all specific about load sharing, or special safety measures for
connection of accessories. Not entertainment systems. Not movie systems. As near as I can tell, accessories, regardless of what they are, are only restricted
by a very basic framework of regulations. Rigid yes, but minimal. In effect, the regulations haven't kept up with the push for installation of new entertainment
Prior to take-off, passengers are religiously reminded about the regulations pertaining to use of radios, laptops, cel phones, and video cameras (due to potential
Electro-Magnetic Interference to the on-board electronics). And yet there's really nothing substantial governing what kind of accessories can share the same
electrical bus as essential flight controls and instruments.
Whether we like it or not, it may turn out that the design and installation of the IFEN in Swissair met all of the existing regulations for Airworthiness.
Or did it?
In the next few days, I'll post copies of FAA regulations that I found regarding DAS Authorizations, STC's, and Airworthiness; ones that I think pertain to this
Movie equipment systems has been on aircraft for years. Have they always been connected in this same manner? Or was this IFEN extraordinarily power
hungry? Was the IFEN originally designed and intended to be connected to the Cabin bus, and then switched to the 'Essential' bus during installation?
Were certain executives at Swissair and IFT able to influence the regulatory system and elbow their IFEN to a quick approval? I suppose you need
like-minded individuals for that to happen. Or people who were motivated in achieving the same goal. Perhaps a promise of attractive stock purchases or
future work contracts?
So I still have some outstanding questions:
1. Was SBA 'rated' by the FAA to do electrical authorizations on aircraft?
2. Since this was probably classified as a 'Major Alteration', was the FAA involved in all aspects of the process that it should have been?
3. Apparently Swissair announced it's IFEN deal in 1996 (exact date not specified). Karl Laasner purchased 2,700 shares in (IFT) on April 30, 1996. The
STC was issued by Santa Barbara Aerospace on November 19, 1996. Hollingshead installed the IFEN in Swissair HB-IWG at Zurich in January 1997, and it
reportedly had an in-service date of January 23, 1997. Did anyone at Hollingshead, SBA, the FAA, or Hollingshead purchase shares in IFT prior to the
in-service date of the IFEN?
4. I believe Santa Barbara Aerospace started first as Aero Spacelines Inc, then was sold to Tracor Aviation in 1981. Tracor sold to Lucas Aviation, then
becoming SBA. In April '97 SBA began leasing two hangars at Santa Barbara Airport, with plans to repair and maintain 747's & DC-10's. At the time they
employed over 570 workers. So why did SBA 'go bankrupt'?
Welcome to Santa Barbara Aerospace, Inc. 495-B South Fairview Avenue Santa Barbara, CA 93117 805-681-9300 VGAACA AOL.com WHO WE
ARE Santa Barbara Aerospace "SBA" is a wholly owned subsidiary of Quaker Holding Company,
www.sbaerospace.com - Santa Barbara Aerospace, Inc -
Santa Barbara CA
NTSB Identification: DCA98RA085
Scheduled 14 CFR 129 operation of SWISSAIR Accident occurred
SEP-02-98 at NOVIA SCOTIA Aircraft: Douglas MD-11, registration: HBIWF
Injuries: 231 Fatal.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain
errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final
report has been completed.
On September 2, 1998, about 0930 pm EDT, a MD-11, HB-IWF, operated by
Swiss Air as flight 111, crashed into a bay near Blandford, Nova Scotia.
(the nearest area is called Peggy's cove). The airplane was a regularly
scheduled passenger flight from JFK International Airport, Jamaica, New
York to Geneva, Switzerland, operating under 14 CFR Part 129. The flight
also operated as Delta flight 111 under a code sharing agreement. The
reports from the scene indicate that the airplane was destroyed and the
217 passengers (including 2 children) and 14 crewmembers were killed.
The accident is being investigated by the Transportation Safety Board of
Canada. The Safety Board is assisting in the investigation under the
provisions of Annex 13 to ICAO as the State of Manufacturer. Technical
advisors to the U.S. Accredited Representative are the FAA, ALPA, Boeing
Long Beach Division, and Pratt & Whitney.
NTSB Identification: DCA99SA051
Incident occurred MAR-29-99 at SAN BERNARDINO, CA Aircraft: McDonnell
Douglas MD-11, registration: N274WA Injuries: 1 Uninjured.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain
errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final
report has been completed.
On March 29, 1999, maintenance personnel in San Bernardino,
California, discovered evidence of a fire on board a McDonnell Douglas
MD-11, N274WA, operated by World Airways. The time and circumstances of
the fire went unreported and are unknown. The airplane received minor
damage, and no injuries associated with the event were reported.
Maintenance personnel at Santa Barbara Aerospace in San Bernardino
contacted the Safety Board when they noted evidence of the fire while
opening up the aft cargo bay floorboards during a scheduled "4
C" maintenance check. The airplane, a freighter, was manufactured
in 1992 and accumulated about 18,300 hours since delivery. A deferred
maintenance item dated February 22, 1999, was noted in the aircraft
logbook that reported a inoperative electric cargo loading system. A
routine task card was scheduled to remove the floorboards, so the
operator opted to defer this item until the 4C check (the floorboards
had never been removed). Upon removal of the floorboards, the insulation
blanket between stations 1661 and 1681 was found burned. An detailed
inspection of the area revealed that a wiring harness, containing
20-guage wires insulated with Kapton, was routed across and onto frame
1681. One wire was separated, and the insulation of seven other wires
were damaged and chaffed where they contacted the frame. The bundle
emanated from the aft cargo loading system control box, which routes 115
volt 3-phase power to electric floor rollers when the aft cargo door is
in the fully open position. Evidence of wire chaffing and arcing was
present on the wire bundle and the frame where the bundle was contacted
it. The metalized mylar that covered the entire insulation blanket
(measuring about 60 inches feet by 20 inches) that fit into the bay
between frame 1661 and 1681 had completely burned away, exposing
partially burned insulation material beneath it. A 1.25-inch hole in the
blanket was found underneath the chaffed portion of the wire bundle. The
mating edge of the adjoining insulation blanket (forward of frame 1681)
was also burned. The metalized mylar is DMS 2072K, type 2, class 1,
grade A, lot no.2024. The tape that held the mylar in place is DMS 1984
tape. Two wire bundle "stand-offs" were installed on either
side of the arced area of the wires. The wire run was 14 inches between
the stand-offs. The outboard stand-off was 1 inch high, and the inboard
stand-off was 1.5 inches high, with an effective stand-off clearance of
3/4-inch from the frame.
NTSB Identification: DCA99RA002
Scheduled 14 CFR 121 operation of DELTA AIRLINES, INC.
Incident occurred OCT-08-98 at SHANNON
Aircraft: Douglas MD-11, registration: N805DE
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain
errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final
report has been completed.
On October 8, 1998, at 1248 Irish time, the flightcrew of a Delta
Airlines Boeing MD-11, N805DE, experienced an electrical odor in the
cockpit. The aircraft was
approaching flight level 350 in a climb out of Manchester, England,
enroute to Atlanta, Georgia. There were two pilots, one jump seat rider,
eleven flight attendants, and
213 passengers on board at the time. No injuries occurred. This incident
occurred over the Atlantic Ocean, about two hours west of Ireland. The
uneventfully into Shannon, Ireland.
Index for Oct 1998 | Index of Months
NTSB Identification: DCA99SA037
Scheduled 14 CFR 121 operation of AMERICAN AIRLINES, INC. Incident
occurred JAN-31-99 at SEATTLE, WA Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas MD-11,
registration: N1765B Injuries: 80 Uninjured.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain
errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final
report has been completed.
On January 31, 1999, about 1500 PST, American Airlines Flight 27,
N1765B, a McDonnell Douglas MD-11, experienced smoke in the cabin and
performed an emergency landing at the Seattle-Tacoma International
Airport. The captain, first officer, 14 crewmembers, and 64 passengers
were not injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and a
company flight plan had been filed. The 14 CFR Part 121 scheduled
international passenger flight had departed Seattle about 1350 and was
en route to Narita, Japan. According to representatives of American
Airlines, the airplane was airborne for about 1 hour and 10 minutes
while cruising over north Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada,
when the event occurred. A "buzz" was first heard over the
public address system, so the flightcrew reset the circuit breaker for
it. Smoke was then observed in the first class cabin area. The crew
immediately declared an emergency and turned back to Seattle. A
crewmember located the source of the smoke and opened up an overhead bin
just forward of the R2 door located near the right rear section of the
first class cabin. A halon fire extinguisher was discharged onto a video
system control unit (VSCU) and the smoke dissipated with no further
incident. No reports of fire were made, and no fire damage was found.
Examination of the VSCU by representatives of the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) revealed that part of a circuit board was charred.
Further examination of the entire video system revealed internal damage
to several video distribution units (VDUs) downstream of the VSCU. A
"cannon plug" power connector that linked the damaged
components exhibited evidence of moisture damage and a short circuit
between two pins. All video system wiring was intact and undamaged. The
video system was manufactured by Rockwell Collins Passenger Systems and
certified by the FAA Long Beach Aircraft Certification Office. It was
installed in the incident airplane by McDonnell Douglas prior to the
aircraft's delivery from the factory. According to manufacturer records
from Rockwell Collins, the connector failure was the first of its kind.
NTSB Identification: DCA99WA013
Incident occurred NOV-27-98 at SINGAPORE Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas
MD-11, registration: UNK Injuries:
On November 27, 1998, a McDonnell Douglas MD-11 operated by Swissair
experienced smoke in the cockpit upon climbout. The incident is being
investigated by the government of Singapore.
Full narrative available
Index for Nov 1998 | Index of Months
Air Safety Week/Canadians rewiring
10/11/1999 11:56 pm EDT
Wholesale wire replacement
The Canadians have already implemented a complete aircraft re-wiring program for older planes while the problem is still being investigated in the U.S. Under
an effort known as the "Energizer" program, Air Canada replaced virtually all the wiring in 10 of its 16 DC-9 aircraft (the 5 remaining are not planned to be
kept in service by the carrier that much longer). The program was completed in November, 1998. A carrier official said, "We kind of gutted everything and
The affected airplanes ranged from 25-32 years old, with up to 68,000 flight cycles and up to 75,000 flying hours.
Hundreds of pounds of wire, some 300 miles worth per airplane, was removed and replaced, according to the carrier. The cost was some $1,360,000 per
airplane, about equally divided between materials and labor (Note, the book value of a 25-year old DC-9 is roughly $3.5 million).
Officials from Transport Canada were not involved, as this was a replacement program, not a modification. The carrier said "normal findings" characterized the
condition of the removed wiring. Evidence of chafing was observed. Degradation of the wiring in the tail area was observed, where de-icing fluid tends to
collect. The program was spurred by the need to increase capacity, and the carrier did not want to be saddled with the high financing cost of new aircraft
should a downturn occur. "We needed aircraft we could deploy quickly, and remove if there was a downturn," the carrier official said. The DC-9's, owned
free and clear, were obvious candidates. "We thought it was smarter to extend their life and improve their general state," the official said.
The carrier has experienced a "significant improvement" in dispatch reliability and on-time performance for the "Energizer" aircraft. Indeed, in a piece titled
"Wired World," Air Canada touted the Energizer program in an issue earlier this year of Enroute, its in-flight magazine.
Historical note: Air Canada lost a DC-9 at Cincinnati, Ohio, June 2, 1983, in which 23 died and the airplane was destroyed, to a fire that began in flight. The
probable cause in the resulting investigation was "fire of undetermined origin." The investigator in charge was our Contributing Editor Rudy Kapustin, who
suspects faulty wiring may have been involved in this tragedy. >> Air Canada, tel. 514/422-5788; Kapustin, tel. 410/730-4410 <<
U.S. Airlines Spent Millions To Ground Passenger Rights Legislation
Oct 11, 1999
United States airlines spent USD$3 million on lobbying and USD$1.3 million in
political donations in their efforts to ground legislation for a passenger
bill of rights according to a study by the group Common Cause.
The report claims that Northwest Airlines, which had been the target of
protests from passengers for holding packed planes on runways last winter,
alone spent USD$1.3 million for lobbying during the first half of 1999. Delta
Airlines spent USD$38,000 in political donations during the same period, the
The Air Transport Association, the trade group for the major carriers, spent
nearly USD$1 million for its lobbying effort during the first half of this
year, according to the Common Cause study.
Political donations by the industry shot up in the first half of this year,
said Common Cause, when the airlines contributed USD$1.3 million to political
parties and candidates. In a comparable period in 1997, they donated
USD$630,000, and in the first half of 1995, the contributions totaled
The Common Cause analysis tracked political spending at a time when public
outrage over treatment by the airlines prompted promises of new legislation
on Capitol Hill. Passengers told of being held prisoner for hours aboard
packed planes that were stuck on runways by winter blizzards and spring
storms and complaints filed against airlines doubled to 5,000 compared with a
In June the major airlines persuaded Congress to accept their offer to set up
a voluntary improvement plan and in September issued their individual
"customers first" proposals.
A study by the General Accounting Office, the investigating arm of Congress,
concluded that most of the rights listed in the airlines' plans do not go
beyond existing legal requirements.
It could take eight years, not the four years proposed, to properly assess
the job and to replace metalized Mylar thermal acoustic insulation blankets
in some 700 Douglas-built aircraft, according to the Air Transport
Association (ATA). The organization represents major U.S. carriers and
believes the price tag of what it estimates may total a half-billion dollar
effort could have a "staggering economic impact on the industry." Worse, a
hurried replacement program could harm safety, rather than improve it, given
the risks of disturbing wire during the thermal acoustic blanket change-out
process. Thus, while installing more fire-resistant "tinder," the effort
could create more "matches" in the form of an unknown number of arcing
sources. Indeed, this potential hazard has been raised by a number of
independent aircraft maintenance and wiring experts.
Last August, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed a massive
changeout of metalized Mylar thermal acoustic insulation blanketing in
Douglas aircraft over a 4-year period, a time ostensibly intended to allow
for the work to be done during scheduled heaving maintenance, when interior
furnishings are removed and access to the thermal acoustic insulation batts
is easier (see ASW, Aug. 16 and Sept. 6).
In a Sept. 27 letter to the FAA, the ATA suggested a prototyping program to
refine estimates of the amount of labor involved, and the best approach
regarding material and installation.
In addition, the ATA argued that an 8-year changeout window would not only
allow for prototyping to nail down uncertainties, it also would allow the
industry to better accommodate the other shoe that has yet to drop:
forthcoming airworthiness directives (ADs) concerning aircraft wiring
systems. Indeed, many in the industry feel whipsawed by requirements to
install modifications or perform inspections on the 737 rudder power control
unit. Meeting the mandated deadlines caused major headaches and scheduling
complications, which many in the industry are loathe to see repeated for
thermal acoustic insulation, according to sources. The ATA, however, did
endorse the replacement effort. Replacing metalized Mylar covered insulation,
the organization said, "will, in our view, enhance aviation safety." >> ATA,
Two Prototyping Efforts
1. American Airlines will modify an entire MD-80 commencing Nov. 22, with
work estimated to be completed January 21, 2000 (including final electrical
and systems checks).
2. Swissair will change out the insulation in a prototype effort commencing
Oct. 18, 1999, on one of its MD-11s, with work slated to conclude Sept. 12.
The prototype efforts are intended to validate recommended procedures in
service bulletins issued earlier. For example, the bulletins address the
fabrication of replacement blankets but do not provide guidance on how best
to remove the old blankets or to install the new ones. In addition, the
bulletins, in the ATA's judgment, outline the least effective of four
Option - A. Blankets provided in kits from manufacturer
Merits/Demerits - The most efficient. Facilitates earliest replacement.
Option - B. Blankets fabricated from measurements in affected airplanes
Merits/Demerits - Viewed as costly and time-consuming. May require
supplemental type certificate (STC) for each installation configuration.
Option - C. Blankets fabricated using a kit of templates provided by the
Merits/Demerits - Viewed as prohibitively costly. The manufacturer may not be
able to provide them in time to meet 4-yr schedule
Option - D. Blankets fabricated using removed blankets as templates as
specified in the service bulletins.
Merits/Demerits - Viewed as the least practical as blankets can be damaged in
removal, shrink during fabrication, and become distorted in service.
Three fires occurred over a 2-year period involving Chinese-registered MD-11
and 737-300 aircraft, according to a 1996 report by the Aircraft
Airworthiness Center of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).
One of the fires, on an MD-11 in 1995 revealed the flammability of metalized
Mylar insulation. Even though the CAAC report was provided to the FAA, it did
not act until Swissair flight 111, involving another MD-11, crashed in Sept.
1998, two years after the Chinese advised there was a flammability problem
with the metalized Mylar insulation on the MD-11.
The Chinese also reported two fires involving 737s, delivered in 1992 and
1993, in which the insulation burned. The 737-300 is outfitted with a
non-metalized Mylar insulation. In the case of the B737 incidents, the
"The covering material of Boeing 737-300 airplane's insulation blanket was
fire flammable. After the insulation blanket was made by sewing, the covering
at the edge of the blanket consists of four layers and made steady by thread.
This kind of sewing was easy to be burned. IN the meanwhile, the edges of
these insulation blanket were mainly located in the frame of the fuselage,
and made its ignited possibility by the sparkles of the short circuit.... It
was a potential danger for the safety of the aircraft." (From the original of
the CAAC's English-language report)
Three Fires in Two Years
Oct. 10, 1994. B737-300. After landing, insulation blanket under rack E2 in
the E&E bay on fire. Wires short-circuited, igniting the fire.
Sept. 16, 1995. MD-11. E&E bay fire. Long-time vibration led to short-circuit
melting through 11 wires, igniting insulation blanketing.
Nov. 13, 1995. B737-300. Film ignited by drill shavings during maintenance.
No Longer Valid
More than a year after Swissair Flight 111 crashed and some three months
after action was recommended by a special review team, the Federal Aviation
Administration (FAA) acted last week, prohibiting the installation on other
MD-11s of the kind of interactive in-flight entertainment network (IFEN)
found on the accident aircraft. Originally, the FAA apparently planned to
allow the IFEN to remain on MD-11s, subject to modifications recommended by
the special certification review team. That course clearly has been rejected
in favor of an outright ban on further installations.
The FAA's Sept. 28 airworthiness directive left a key point unsaid. It
explained that electrical power eventually would be removed from the IFEN via
the SMOKE ELEC/AIR rotary switch, which cuts powers each of the airplane's
three electrical systems in turn. What the AD did not say is that it would be
possible to re-apply power to the IFEN by moving the switch through its
various positions, as called for in the SMOKE ELEC checklist.
The IFEN was manufactured by Interactive Flight Technologies (IFT) of
Phoenix, Arizona. At a Sept. 30 stockholders meeting, CEO Irwin Gross said
IFT will no longer manufacture entertainment systems for commercial aircraft.
Original June 14, 1999, Recommendations of the Special Certification Review
Recommendation 1: The FAA's Los Angles Aircraft Certification Office...will
issue an airworthiness directive (AD) to mandate design changes to ensure
that the IFEN system electrical power is connected to, or controlled by, the
CAB (cabin) BUS switch.
Recommendation 2: The FAA's Los Angeles Certification Office...will issue an
AD to mandate a design change to include an electrical power interruption
(ON/OFF) mechanism for the IFEN system that is accessible to the flight
and/or cabin crew. This mandated change can be incorporated in the AD issued
in response to Recommendation No. 1.
STS-93 -- Chandra X-ray Observatory
LOCATION: Orbiter Processing Facility bay 3
OFFICIAL KSC LAUNCH DATE/TIME: July 23, 1999 at 12:31 a.m. EDT
KSC LANDING DATE/TIME: July 27, 1999 at 11:20 p.m. EDT
MISSION DURATION: 4 days, 22 hours, 50 minutes
CREW: Collins, Ashby, Hawley, Coleman, Tognini
NOTE: Following Columbia's tow to the Orbiter Processing Facility bay 3 early Wednesday morning at the conclusion of its STS-93 mission, workers
continue safing operations and post-mission inspections. Columbia is being readied for ferry to Palmdale, CA at the end of September for an extended
period of structural inspections and orbiter modifications.
Last night, engineers in the OPF made initial visual inspections of the No. 3 main engine nozzle and the apparent hotwall ruptures in three adjacent
coolant tubes. Engineers believe these ruptures resulted in a small hydrogen leak that occurred during Columbia's launch last week. Overnight, the
damaged area was removed from the nozzle and sent to the Rocketdyne facility in Conoga Park, CA for analysis.
Also, access to the orbiter's aft engine compartment continues in order to allow workers to troubleshoot a problem that caused an apparent short
circuit on one of the electrical busses that feed controllers on the right and center main engines. The center main engine primary controller was shutdown
shortly after booster ignition and the backup controller for the right main engine was disqualified.
The solid rocket boosters were towed to Hangar AF and inspections began July 26. Initial indications show both boosters to be in excellent condition
ASIAN DEATH CARRIERS
Almost one in three of nearly 9,000 deaths in jet aircraft accidents around the world this decade occurred on flights operated by Asian airlines, according to the aviation magazine Orient Aviation. The magazine said in its October issue that Asia accounted for 2,480 of the 8,751 passenger and crew fatalities in jet aircraft accidents from 1990 to 1999. The figure places Asian airlines "considerably ahead" of their counterparts elsewhere, the magazine said. African airlines accounted for 1,530 deaths. The death toll aboard South American carriers was 1,391 during the same period. North American airlines, with 877 fatalities and European carriers with 811 fatalities had the best safety records, the magazine reported.
"While no one disputes several of the industry's safest carriers world-wide are Asian flag operators, the review of crashes reveals that poor performance and repeated lapses by others are continuing to reflect badly on Asia's overall air safety reputation," the magazine said. "There are more fatalities than elsewhere, more non-fatal accidents and a crash ratio to departures higher than the world average," it said. "Although the fatality statistics are absolute, and do not take into account the revenue kilometers flown by airlines, they clearly show why Asia has built up a bad name in the air safety arena." The article singled out Korean Air and China Airlines of Taiwan. A Korean Airline 747 flew into a hillside in Guam in 1997, killing 226 of 254 people on board. Taiwan's China Airlines had its worst accident in February 1998, when an airliner crashed outside Taipei killing all 196 people aboard and six on the ground.
On August 22 three people were killed and more than 200 injured when a China Airlines 747 crashed and flipped at Hong Kong. Leroy Keith, technical director of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines,
(AAPA) said some carriers had their "heads in the sand" over safety. "I don't just mean Taiwan and Korea. I mean the membership of the
AAPA," he said. "I think there was a denial for a number of years, a belief we just had some bad luck, but I think in the past year or so there has really been a serious wake-up call. The rest of the world is saying the rates are worse in the Asia-Pacific, and the public knows it. You can't deny it, the facts are there," Keith said.
With wiring inspections and repairs of Discovery and Endeavour nearing completion and similar work beginning on Atlantis, Shuttle program managers
today set new planning target launch dates for the next three Space Shuttle missions. Based on an assessment of the work remaining on Discovery and Endeavour and the inspections which have begun on Atlantis, managers set the following
as target launch dates for upcoming flights:
"Our number one priority for the Space Shuttle is to fly safely, and that is why we delayed our launch preparations and have performed comprehensive
wiring inspections and repairs," Space Shuttle Program Manager Ron Dittemore said.
"As a result of our inspections, we've made significant changes in
how we protect electrical wiring. We believe those changes, along with changes to the work platforms and procedures we use in the Shuttle's payload bay,
will prevent similar wire damage from recurring," Dittemore added.
05:00 PM ET 10/07/99
Hubble Repair Bumped to December CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) _ NASA has bumped space shuttle Discovery's flight to the Hubble Space Telescope to December so workers can complete wiring and valve repairs. Shuttle managers said Thursday they're targeting a Dec. 2 launch date for Discovery. The telescope-repair mission had been scheduled for mid-October, then mid-November. A radar-mapping mission by Endeavour, meanwhile, has been moved to January. And the next flight to the international space station, by Atlantis, is now set for February. The missions were delayed following Columbia's marred launch in July. A short circuit five seconds into the flight knocked out computers for two of the three main engines;
defective wiring was to blame. Wiring defects subsequently were found in the other
shuttles. NASA also is contending with bad valves aboard Discovery. Two leaking valves in the right orbital maneuvering system must be replaced. With only two shuttle launches so far in 1999, and only one more scheduled, this will be the leanest year for NASA since shuttles resumed flying in 1988 following the Challenger disaster.