FAA's Airline Wiring Initiative: IASA Disappointed that No Provision for Performance Tests for Aircraft Wiring


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NEW YORK, Aug. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The Chairman of the International Aviation Safety Association (IASA), Lyn S Romano, a veteran campaigner for improved aircraft wiring standards, described the FAA's new training and maintenance programs (EAPAS) to address the problem of aircraft wiring as "a step in the right direction." IASA was formed in the wake of the crash of a Swissair operated MD-11 aircraft in Nova Scotia, Canada on September 2, 1998 that took the lives of all 229 passengers and crew -- including Lyn's 44-year-old husband Ray. In Lyn's opinion, her organisation's relentless campaigning around the world has had the desired effect. IASA is relieved that aircraft wiring is finally receiving the attention it deserves. "As soon as I formed IASA, I realised that my first task was to persuade those I met with in the aviation community, to even utter the words 'aircraft wiring.' It was only after months of meetings around the world that aircraft wiring was finally recognised as a safety topic in its own right." After meeting with Lyn Romano, the President's Executive Office declared in a May 10, 2000 memorandum that the wiring in aging aircraft was an "issue of national concern." This preceded the formation of the wire System Safety Interagency Working Group (WSSIWG). "As pleased as I am that the FAA is finally taking steps to begin the process of determining the true extent of the threat to safety posed by aircraft wiring, I have to question the time it has taken them to do so. If this threat is ever going to be eliminated, it will require a well coordinated, thorough, initiative that places as much emphasis on cure as it does prevention." IASA is concerned that there is not enough emphasis on addressing the central problem -- the actual aircraft wire. "When you take into account that a modern commercial jet contains more than 100 miles of wiring, what possible justification can there be for not requiring performance testing?"

If you want to find out more about the International Aviation Safety Association (IASA) alternatively you can send an email to iasa.pr@virgin.net. or visit http://www.iasa.com.au


 

SOURCE International Aviation Safety Association
Web Site: http://www.iasa.com.au
August 16, 2001 - FAA Takes Steps on Airline Wiring

WASHINGTON (USA) - The Federal Aviation Administration is developing new training and maintenance programs to address the problem of decayed wiring on airplanes.

The action comes just over five years after the explosion of TWA Flight
800 off the coast of New York's Long Island. Federal safety investigators believe a spark in the wiring ignited vapors in a fuel tank. All 230 people aboard were killed.

Investigators also say wiring may have started the fire blamed for downing Swissair Flight 111 off the coast of Nova Scotia in September 1998, killing all 229 people on board.

While wiring is routinely looked at now, the FAA plans to order new steps immediately to improve the way airlines inspect and maintain their wiring systems. Other FAA actions to deal with decaying wiring should be in place the end of 2004.
A Boeing 747 has about 175 miles of wiring on board.

A three-year study of older airplanes by an FAA task force found several problems with the wiring. In some cases, cracks appeared in the wire because it rubbed against the side of the airplane. Other times, maintenance workers damaged the wire trying to get to it to inspect it, because the wire was hard to get to.

There were cases of high voltage wires lying across each other, running the risk of a spark jumping from one line to another.
The problem has grown more acute as airplanes age.

``The failure of electrical wiring may lead to loss of function or smoke and/or fire,'' the FAA said in a report Thursday.
``Wire degradation can occur with age and be accelerated by exposure to moisture, vibration and mechanical stress, and temperature variation. Over time, the possibilities increase that improper installation or repair, contamination, or inadequate maintenance has caused further exposure to these conditions.'' The FAA told airline manufacturers to let the various airlines know of potential problems with wiring. The agency will develop its own handbook as well to help airlines develop new maintenance and inspection programs.

The agency said it would require airlines to improve programs for training employees and maintaining wiring and would ask airplane manufacturers to correct any problems in existing wiring systems.
``Wire, when properly installed, maintained and inspected, can stay in the airplane as long as the plane flies,'' said John Hickey, director of FAA's aircraft certification service.

An aviation consultant said the FAA is not going far enough.
Edward Block, who helped study airplane wiring for the task force, said the agency needs to impose standards for wire manufacturers to meet.
``The real issue is wire performance,'' said Block, chairman of the International Air Safety Foundation, a Pennsylvania-based advocacy group.
``There's no test done on the wiring going into aircraft today.'' Hickey said the agency was studying whether performance tests should be required for airplane wiring.

ons into a plan to increase awareness of wiring system degradation, implement improved procedures for wiring maintenance and design, and spread that information throughout the aviation community.

The FAA's overall Aging Transport Non-Structural Systems program, an effort begun in October 1998, is an expansion of the agency's Aging Aircraft Program. The systems program, modeled after the very successful aging structures program started more than a decade ago, looks into wiring systems (i.e., connectors, wiring harnesses, and cables) and is now reviewing mechanical systems.

"Thanks to congressional support, the FAA leads the way in research to raise the safety bar on aircraft systems," said FAA Administrator Jane F. Garvey. "Our partnership with industry and the academic community has helped us develop a comprehensive plan for wire system safety."
In 1999, Administrator Garvey created a formal advisory group called the Aging Transport Systems Rulemaking Advisory Committee (ATSRAC). The committee is made up of representatives from aircraft manufacturers, airlines, user groups, aerospace and industry associations, and government agencies.

Under ATSRAC auspices, a series of data-gathering efforts studied both in-service and retired commercial airliners in the first systematic effort to look at the state of aircraft wiring. The data showed that wire degradation and failure could have multiple causes, and were not solely related to age. ATSRAC synthesized the data and made recommendations to the FAA last January.

EAPAS is the agency's plan to act on those results and recommendations while simultaneously implementing the agency's own strategies for improved wire system safety.

The near-term elements of the EAPAS plan are designed to accomplish rapid safety improvements based on existing, fully analyzed data. These actions, which arenow mostly complete, include:

·Essential corrective actions such as airworthiness directives ·Promoting adoption of better wiring maintenance procedures though a "lessons learned" document from aircraft manufacturers to operators ·New training and guidance materials for FAA inspectors and engineers ·Sharing information with industry and worldwide civil aviation authorities Longer-term actions in the EAPAS plan are intended to "institutionalize" management of aircraft wiring systems by revising existing federal regulations concerning design, certification, maintenance and continued airworthiness of aircraft wiring systems. This effort would include:

·Proposing a Special Federal Aviation Regulation to mandate the development of an enhanced inspection program ·Proposing regulatory changes to enhance maintenance programs for systems ·Developing advisory materials that define an aging systems maintenance and training program ·Proposing changes to certification regulations to specifically address wiring systems EAPAS' longer-term actions also will improve reporting and analysis of wire problems and foster research and development in the areas of arc fault circuit breakers, automated wire inspection tools, wire separation and wire performance.

The full text of the EAPAS plan is available under the "Reports, Publications & Documents" section at: http://www.faa.gov/apa/newsroom.htm
 ### An electronic version of this news release is available via the World Wide Web at: http://www.faa.gov/apa/pr/index.cfm

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