Friday August 17, 12:59 pm Eastern Time
Press Release
SOURCE: International Aviation Safety Association

FAA's Airline Wiring Initiative: IASA Disappointed that No Provision for Performance Tests for Aircraft Wiring
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) then visit http://www.iasa.com.au alternatively you can send an email to iasa.pr@virgin.net.

SOURCE: International Aviation Safety Association


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August 17, 2001 - F.A.A. Says More Training Could Reduce Wiring Flaws
WASHINGTON (USA) " Wiring problems on old planes, recognized as a hazard since the crash of Trans World Airlines Flight 800 five years ago, are caused not by natural decay but by clumsy maintenance, bad equipment design and improper installation, the Federal Aviation Administration said today.

As a result, the agency is calling for training technicians and engineers to avoid damaging the wiring, especially as the number of older jets rises.

"The phenomenon we originally thought that `aging' implied was the chemical degradation of an insulation blanket on a wire after 30 years in service,"

said John Hickey, director of the aircraft certification service at the aviation agency.

But investigators looking at 20- year-old planes in service, and even older, retired aircraft, did not find that kind of deterioration, Mr. Hickey said.

"We found inadequate maintenance or repair, or contamination or other mechanical damage," he said. Wires could be damaged in work on adjacent equipment, he said, or after years of rubbing against something. Some of those problems could also affect younger airplanes, he said, and could make electrically controlled equipment fail in flight or cause smoke or fire.

But the agency has no clear idea of how often wiring causes problems, because trouble reports in its database often describe the problem as being in the equipment powered or controlled by the wiring instead of in the wiring itself, officials said.

The agency released a report today calling for new rules on wiring by the end of 2004. It has asked the airlines to make voluntary changes soon.

More attention to wiring could turn out to be the government's main response to the causes of the crash of Flight 800, a 25-year-old Boeing 747 that exploded shortly after takeoff from Kennedy Airport, killing all 230 people aboard.

The National Transportation Safety Board, which investigated the crash, said the cause was a spark that ignited fuel vapors in the mostly empty center fuel tank, but the board did not pinpoint what had caused the spark. It recommended several possible steps to eliminate ignition even if a spark is present, including filling empty space in tanks with inert gas.

But last week a task force told an advisory committee appointed by the aviation agency that the inert-gas option was too expensive. The committee has not decided what to tell the agency, but the airline industry is not enthusiastic about the idea.

Studying planes in service, experts found places where one power cable lay atop another, which could lead to a short circuit, and places where the wires were bent too tightly. There were also cases in which equipment had been installed in a plane without specific instructions about routing the wiring.

"When they went out to repair facilities for installation, five different repair facilities might have installed the wires five different ways," Mr.

Hickey said. "Some were very good, some were not so good."

Airline personnel, airplane designers and aviation agency inspectors all need more training, he said.

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