International Aviation Safety Association

First Annual Symposium

“Aircraft Wiring: Cause for Concern?”

Grand Hyatt, Park Avenue at Grand Central,

New York, USA,

17 & 18 November 2000


We are pleased to inform you that IASA will be holding its First Annual Symposium – “Wiring: Cause for Concern?” - on the 17 & 18 November 2000 at the Grand Hyatt, New York.




The Symposium will address safety issues posed by the general Wiring of Aircraft including: Service Life; Circuit Breaker Resetting; Flammability & Smoke requirements; Mixing of different Wire Types and the Inherent Dangers of Specific Wire Types.


These issues will be addressed from a balanced perspective and attention will also be given to Regulatory Oversight from a National and International Perspective.




We have selected a range of speakers to ensure that all issues are thoroughly debated. To date they include:

  • Charles Huettner White House Senior Policy Advisor for Aviation
  • The National Transportation Safety Board
  • Richard Healing Chairman of the Navy Aircraft Wire and Inert Gas Generator (AWIGG) group
  • Gwyneth Dunwoody MP Chairman UK House of Commons Transport Select Committee
  • Klaus Koplin Secretary General (European) Joint Aviation Authorities
  • Sy Levine Creator of the Remote Aircraft Flight Recorder and Advisory Telemetry System
  • Mike Murphy Chairman of the Air Passenger Safety Group Canada

We also hope to include speakers from the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

In addition IASA Chairman Lyn S Romano, IASA USA Vice-Chairman Ed Block and IASA Europe Chairman Aart Van der Wal will give individual presentations.


Registration is FREE. There are a limited number of seats available and so early registration is recommended to avoid disappointment. In order to register your interest please provide us with the following information:

  • Name
  • Full Postal Address
  • Contact telephone number (s)
  • Email Address
  • Discipline (e.g.: Industry, Media or Passenger)
  • Which day(s) you would like to attend

Send this information to Lyn Romano at

We look forward to seeing you.



Lyn Romano

IASA (USA) Director of Legal & Public Relations




The International Aviation Safety Association






Media Pack



March 2000



Media pack




















aircraft wiring




thermal insulation Blankets




missing data




our work to date


Appendix 1


Appendix 2


Appendix 3



key individuals


IASA first annual symposium












WHAT IS the international aviation safety association?




What is “IASA”?


IASA is a non-political, non-profit, independent organisation concerned in all aspects of aviation safety that strives to achieve balance in a forum that historically tends to be dominated by the aircraft and related industry.


When was IASA established?


The International Aviation Safety Association (“IASA”) was founded on the 4 March 1999 by Mrs Lyn S Romano whose husband, Ray, was one of the 229 people killed on SWR111, a Swissair operated MD-11 aircraft, that crashed off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada, on the 2 September 1998.


Where is IASA represented?


Aviation safety is a global matter. To reflect this IASA has European (Continental), UK, Australian, Canadian, US, Israeli, South African and South American representation with principal offices in the United States of America, Holland, Great Britain and Australia.


Who is IASA?


IASA comprises individuals who bring to IASA their own area of expertise. They are highly committed to aviation safety, and the combination of commitment and expertise provides the necessary synergy needed to tackle a wide variety of aviation safety matters.



Please Note:


For more detailed information on the primary individuals that comprise IASA please refer to Appendix 1 (page 15)









The Crash of Swissair Flight 111



Since the crash of a Swissair operated MD-11 aircraft off the coast of Nova Scotia on the 2 September 1998, there has been widespread concern with regard to the safety of commercial air travel.


Whilst the investigation into this crash is continuing, it has already highlighted a number of critical safety issues that compromise the safety of both passengers and crew. To date, as a direct result of the ongoing investigation into the causes of this crash, the following action has been taken:


On the 9 December 1998 the Federal Aviation Administration issued an Airworthiness Directive (Enclosure 1) ordering the inspection and possible replacement of electrical wiring above the forward passenger doors of MD-11 aircraft.


On the 22 December 1998 the Transportation Safety Board of Canada issued a Safety Advisory Letter (Enclosure 2) to Mr. Bernard Loeb of the National Transportation Safety Board of the United States. A TSB Safety Advisory Letter is used to identify a potential safety deficiency and is often sufficient to instigate appropriate remedial action. The letter states in part:


“It is well known that electrical arcing can result from the breakdown of wire insulation material, and that arcing can create substantial heat. Wire insulation is susceptible to deterioration in the presence of adverse conditions, such as some combination of vibration, moisture, temperature, stress/strain, contact with rough surfaces, excessively tight bending or other physical damage.”


On the 11 January 1999, the National Transportation Safety Board issued a safety recommendation (Enclosure 3) requesting:


“… on an expedited basis, an inspection of all MD-11 airplanes for discrepancies of wiring in and around the cockpit overhead circuit breaker panel … The inspection should include examination for loose wire connections, inconsistent wire routings, broken bonding wires, small wire bend radii, and chaffed and cracked wire insulation.”


On the same day, the FAA issuing a further Airworthiness Directive that required a more comprehensive look at wiring on the MD-11 fleet (Enclosure 4).


On the 11 August 1999 the FAA announced that to reduce the risk of the spread of fire aboard aircraft it had required operators of 699 aircraft to replace insulation blankets covered with metalized Mylar during heavy maintenance but within a maximum period of four years (Enclosure 5). This was because the TSB had determined that a contributing factor to the spread of the fire was the flammability of the thermal insulation blankets covered with metalized Mylar.


IASA now understands that Swissair will carry out an extensive program of cockpit rewiring on its 19 MD-11 aircraft. This decision is reported to be based on analysis of wiring routing after analysis of the aircraft that crashed. Included in the proposal is a replacement of Tefzel-coated wiring by a more durable wiring to increase chafing resistance.


A series of high-profile aircraft disasters since the crash of Swissair 111 on the 2 September 1998, have intensified the debate concerning aviation safety.


These are just a few incidents since the crash of Swissair 111 where in excess of 1000 people were killed:







Paukn Air








Congo Airlines

Boeing 727-030



Sakha Airlines




Thai Airways

Airbus A310-204



Transafrik Intl




Fuerza Aerea








China SW Airlines




American Airlines








Air Fiji




Cabo Verde Airlines




Lineas Aereas

Boeing 737-204C



Necon Air





Boeing 767-366ER







United Nations




Asian Spirit Airlines

LET 410







Cubana de Aviacion




Cubana de Aviacion





Saab SF340




Shorts 360-300



Kenya Airways




Alaska Airlines









IASA’s three critical aviation safety issues are:


1.      Aircraft Wiring

2.      Thermal Insulation Blankets

3.      Incomplete Data for safety evaluation purposes



Section 3:


Aircraft Wiring



Every modern passenger jet contains up to 150 miles of wiring, and even more than this on the newer “fly by wire” type aircraft. Electrical wiring in aircraft is used in functions such as power distribution, command and control, communications, primary life support apparatus of personnel and virtually every other system on the aircraft.


IASA is not alone in its concerns with certain aspects of an aircraft’s wiring. On the 15-Sep-99 the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), a union representing 55,000 airline pilots at 51 U.S. and Canadian airlines; took its concerns to the United States Congress. Captain Paul McCarthy, executive air safety chairman for ALPA said this in a Press Release (Enclosure 6):


"Various events and accidents have made it imperative that we examine all aspects of aircraft wiring, from the design characteristics, to the materials used, to how they are installed in the aircraft. We also must revise our previous notions of how well wiring holds up under aging and use. And wherever possible, we must pursue technological improvements that provide better alternatives to electrical wiring," 


IASA’s primary concerns in respect of aircraft wiring can be categorised as follows:


1.      Service Life

2.      Circuit Breaker Resetting

3.      Flammability & Smoke Requirements

4.      Mixing of different Wire Types

5.      Inherent Dangers of Specific Wire Types




Service Life



Typically wire was developed by the military and designed for only 10,000 flying hours. Whilst the industry standard is often cited at 50,000 flying hours, there has been no specific testing to determine that this could ever be increased.


Of note is the fact that TWA800 that exploded in mid-air on the 17 July 1996 involved a Boeing 747-131 that was wired with “Poly-X”. This wire was rated at 60,000 hours and yet had 93,303 flying hours recorded when it exploded.



Circuit Breaker Resetting



A circuit breaker is a protective device for opening a circuit automatically when excessive current is flowing through it.


Electrical arcs can occur due to shorts or overloaded circuits when the integrity of the outer insulation is challenged by means of mechanical, chemical, or thermal stresses. If the arc travels from the initial point of inception on the wire to another location, the arc is said to be propagating or "tracking." The arc tracking phenomenon in the wiring systems of aircrafts poses a serious safety threat.


In the early eighties the military found that resetting of Kapton wired circuit breakers could cause “arc-tracking” and “arc-over”. The FAA duplicated this testing in 1988, 1991 and 1995.


On the 5 April 1991 the FAA issued an Advisory Circular (AC 25-16) in which they warned of the dangers of resetting Kapton wired circuit breakers:


“… Each successive attempt to restore an automatically disconnected CPD [circuit protection device] can result in progressively worse effects from arc tracking.”


In a later Advisory Circular (AC43.13-B; 8 September 1998)(Section 11-51) it is stated:


“Circuit breakers are designed as circuit protection for the wire … not for protection of black boxes or components, and are not recommended for use as switches.”


However, what they didn’t do was ensure that this critical information was disseminated among the pilots who would have to take the decision - if the situation presented itself - to reset a circuit breaker.


In May 1999, IASA met with the Administrator of the FAA, to press them for a firm policy of the resetting of circuit breakers. On the 13 and 14 July 1999, IASA formally requested the Aging Transport Rulemaking Advisory Committee to recommend to the FAA that they develop a firm policy with regard to the resetting of circuit breakers.


Whilst there is no mandatory guidance on this issue, on the 30 November 1999 IASA met with the Chairman, Sir Malcolm Field, and other principal members of the UK Civil Aviation Authority. They stated:


“Circuit breakers should not be reset by the flight or cabin crews and only in exceptional circumstances should the flight crew seek to rest a circuit breaker. The CAA has promulgated instructions to this effect for many years.”


The US Department of the Air Force reiterated this to the FAA in a Memorandum dated 24 August 1999.


On the 7 September 1999 IASA again met with the FAA in Washington and were advised that the guidance contained in AC25-16 remained advisory in nature.



Flammability and Smoke Requirements



Cross-linked Tefzel has a 97% obscurity rating for smoke, compared to 2-3% for all other alternative wire types.


The FAA has no tests for wire smoke and infact the only test that it requires is an antiquated 60° flame test. There are in excess of 2,500 aircraft flying in the US today that would fail this test.








In 1982 the US Navy determined, McDonnell Douglas made similar findings prior to 1982, that it was dangerous to mix different wire types in close proximity to one another due to variations in abrasion resistance – this is sometimes referred to as the “Sand Paper Effect”. In essence, if the insulation is compromised and exposes the conductor this can lead to a phenomenon call “arc tracking” (see introduction to the Section entitled: Circuit Breaker Resetting).


FAA Advisory Circular AC25-16 (above) warn of the dangers of mixing wire types and that it can lead to a hazardous situation. In another Advisory Circular AC 43.13-B (8 September 1998) (Section 11-155) it is stated that:


“Routing of wires with dissimilar insulation, within the same bundle, is not recommended, particularly when relative motion and abrasion between wires having dissimilar insulation can occur.”


In the same document (Section 11-210) the FAA warn of the dangers if insulation is compromised in a system used to mark the wires:


“Fracture of the insulation wall and penetration to the conductor of these materials by the stamping dies have occurred. Later in service, when these openings have been wetted by various fluids, serious arcing and surface tracking will have damaged wire bundles.”


In March 1999, IASA briefed the Aging Systems Task Force (ASTF) on this vital subject. As with the resetting of circuit breakers, the potentially life saving guidance given in both Advisory Circular 25-16 and 43.13-B remains advisory as far as the FAA is concerned.






We have seen above that it is potentially catastrophic if:


1.      A circuit breaker is used as a switch

2.      Wires with different abrasion resistance are placed in close proximity to one another

3.      A fluid makes contact with the conductor if there has been a fracture to the insulation material


Consider this:


1.      TWA 800 Crash 17 July 1996 - The wire that was used in this Boeing 747-131 was “Poly-X”. Poly X was banned by the US Military


2.      Valujet 592 Crash 11 May 1996 – The wire that was used in this McDonnell Douglas DC-9-32 was “Polyvinyl Chloride”. Polyvinyl Chloride was banned by the US Military


3.      Swissair 111 Crash 2 September 1998 – The wire that was used in this McDonnell Douglas MD-11 was “Kapton”. Kapton was banned by the US Military


The arcing properties of the aromatic polymide Kapton have received intense media and public scrutiny particularly since the crash of Swissair 111.


In an electrical short Kapton insulation is said to char to a conductive carbon residue that ignites like a "dynamite fuse", affecting the whole wiring bundle. This can affect not only the specific system that this wiring serves but can “knock out” other systems served by wiring routed alongside it. Because this can be intermittent prior to flashover, the circuit breakers may not trip. There is therefore nothing to halt this ``flashover'' because the power stays on the wire. Further research has shown that, under certain conditions, the aircraft wire can explode, causing further fires inside the plane.


Although this particular type of wiring insulation has not been fitted by Boeing to new aircraft since 1992, the world's largest plane maker Airbus Industrie continue to use a version of it in their new planes.


In 1999, the entire space shuttle fleet was grounded due to problems experienced with wiring on its spacecraft. The wiring in question was Kapton.


There are those that suggest that the military ban on Kapton bears no impact on its continued use in civilian aircraft. They assert that military planes undergo unusual stresses inapplicable to their civilian counterparts.


Civilian aircraft are subject to similar stresses as their military counterpart and indeed the service life of a civilian aircraft is many times that of its military counterpart.


Those who regulate civilian aircraft should heed the lessons learned by the military and others and prohibit the use of wire types that have been shown to compromise safety.






section 4:









On the 11 August 1999 the FAA announced that to reduce the risk of the spread of fire aboard aircraft it had required operators of 699 aircraft to replace insulation blankets covered with metalized Mylar during heavy maintenance or within a maximum of four years (Enclosure 5). This was because the TSB of Canada had determined that a contributing factor to the spread of the fire on board Swissair 111 was the flammability of the thermal insulation blankets covered with metalized Mylar.






The findings of the TSB of Canada did not in themselves present data to the FAA of which they were not, or should not have already been aware. It is reasonable to infer that the FAA was alerted to the potential flammability inadequacies of insulation blankets covered with metalized Mylar on or about the 1996.






On the 24 May 1996 the Civil Aviation Administration of China (“CAAC”) sent a Technical Report to the FAA in which they expressed concerns regarding the flammability of insulation blankets covered with metalized Mylar. Their concerns followed tests they carried out on or about September 1995.






The FAA responded to the Technical Report submitted to them by the CAAC by letter dated the 24 July 1996. In that letter they state:


“The FAA is also very interested in the flammability of insulation materials, and has a research project underway to pursue this issue further. One of the issues that will be addressed is the adequacy of the existing certification criteria. The materials that are currently used for the film covering on insulation blankets tend to shrink away from the bunsen burner flame when it is applied to a test sample.”






On the 30 November 1999 IASA met with the Chairman, Sir Malcolm Field, and other principal members of the UK Civil Aviation Authority. They stated that:


“The CAA were unaware of the incident in September 1995, or of the communication between the Civil Aviation Administration of China and the FAA in which the flammability of Mylar covered insulation blankets was questioned.”





On the 9 November 1999, SAir Group issued a Press Release wherein they take the “initiative” and replace the identified insulation material in certain parts of their MD-11 aircraft otherwise than in reliance on the four-year mandatory provision in APA 87-99.



The TSB of Canada has determined that a component present in some 699 civilian aircraft can spread fire. The FAA has required that this be replaced within four years.


If the FAA had taken this step on or about 1996 the replacement would have been completed on or about 2000. This in itself would not have been sufficient.


Those who board an aircraft should be protected immediately in respect of a known danger of which there is an abundance of data. No comfort can be found in knowing that the replacement process should have been completed by on or about 2003.


Fires will spread in ignorance of this data.







section 5:





There is not yet in place an adequate system for the collation of data recording the specific circumstances of an incident involving an aircraft. The FAA does not even have a “code” to report and record wire failures; instead they are reported as “systems failures”.


Whilst we understand that codes are in the development stage, their absence seriously compromises aviation safety. Unless any new codes are applied retrospectively their future continued use could have a potentially limited effect.


Important lessons can be learned from the past.







section 6:


Our work to date



IASA is actively involved in the aviation safety debate on a global scale and is engaged in active dialogue with the following organisations:


1.      The Office of the Vice President of the United States of America

2.      The United States Office of Science and Technology

3.      The Federal Aviation Administration

4.      The European Joint Aviation Authorities

5.      The United Kingdom House of Commons Select Committee on Transport

6.      The United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority

7.      The Transportation Safety Board of Canada

8.      The US Department: National Partner for Re-Organization of Government

9.      The Netherlands Civil Aviation Authority.








25 November 1999 JAA Headquarters, Hoofddorp, The Netherlands.


1.      IASA met formally with, amongst others, the Secretary General of the European Joint Aviation Authorities, Mr K Koplin, and Certification Director, Mr. J.F. van der Spek.


29 November 1999 House of Commons, London, Great Britain.


1.      IASA sat before the United Kingdom House of Commons Select Committee on Transport. Gwyneth Dunwoody MP chaired this “special session”.


3 February 2000 The White House, Washington, USA.


1.      On 3 February 2000, the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of IASA met with representatives from the President and Vice President's Offices at the White House Executive Office Building, to discuss their concerns about aviation

2.      The discussions involved the specific lack of oversight by the FAA in
regard to aircraft wiring, circuit breakers, and thermal insulation blankets.

3.      It was a very constructive meeting, with those in attendance agreeing there were indeed problems, and rather than debating them, instead focusing their attention on how to fix them.

4.      A future meeting was set for 10 March to discuss the potential IASA remedies.

Roswell Inspection


1.      During the first week of February 2000, IASA’s Vice Chairman, Edward Block, inspected aging aircraft's wiring in the desert of Roswell, New Mexico.

2.      The 747 showed numerous instances of cracked wiring, as well as missing clamps and supports. This was in support of the FAA's Aging Transport Systems Rulemaking Advisory Committee. This committee was formed via the White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security, to assess the effects of aging on aircraft wiring.



APPENDIX 1 – key individuals






Mrs Lyn S Romano




The driving force behind IASA, Lyn has been key in focussing IASA’s agenda and ensuring that it is brought to the attention of governments and regulators on a global basis.


Lyn has always maintained that IASA is not a victims’ organisation and has brought together a team of independent experts that reflects that fact.


Lyn is adamant that the media focus more attention on the issues and not her personal circumstances. Lyn attracted a high-level of media attention when she announced the formation of IASA and has regularly featured in many newspaper and TV interviews. Most notably she was featured in the BBC Panorama documentary “Die by Wire”, Fox Five News, the London Times and the serialised documentary “Fire in the Sky”.










Ed is recognised as a world leading wire and cable expert. His credentials are numerous but include:


1.      Developing a joint proposal with NASA to address problems associated with general aircraft wiring

2.      Initiated joint NTSB/FAA Joint Task Force to study problems with commercial aircraft wiring

3.      Briefed the FBI, FAA, NAVY, GAO, Congressman Greenwood, the Centre for Public Integrity on aircraft wire degradation

4.      Consulted with the White House Commission in Aircraft Safety & Security

5.      For ten years was the Pentagon’s senior wiring expert

6.      Ed has been instrumental in bringing to IASA his unparalleled expertise in all aspects of general aircraft wiring and is IASA’s senior technical resource.






MR Aart Van der Wal




1.      Aart has brought to IASA his incredible business acumen and astute European insight that has proved invaluable in collating and evaluating the myriad of European aviation regulations.


2.      Aart has developed close ties with the European Joint Aviation Authority and is in discussions to sit on one of the JAA Safety Committees.


3.      Whilst Aart’s previous career was in world shipping, it has proved to be a productive transition from sea to aircraft travel. Aart played a fundamental role in the formation of IASA and the development of its strategies and policies.








First Annual Symposium

Global Aviation Safety ~ Our Wings Encompass All

 Friday 17 and Saturday 18 November 2000

Grand Hyatt, Park Avenue at Grand Central, New York City, USA




The International Aviation Safety Association is pleased to announce that it will hold its First Annual Symposium - "Global Aviation Safety ~ Our Wings Encompass All" - at the Grand Hyatt, Park Avenue at Grand Central, New York, USA, on the 17 and 18 November 2000.





Registration is free of charge and you are invited to register for either or both days by submitting the following information to us:

1.       Full Name

2.       E-mail & full postal address

3.       Contact Telephone number

4.       Your area of expertise/interest (e.g.; pilot/ member of public)

5.       17 or 18 November 2000/Both days

You should send your registration details to

A buffet lunch will be served on both days, and limited Internet and fax facilities will be available for your use. A limited number of places are available and so please register early to avoid disappointment.





A full Agenda will be circulated in due course, however, among the speakers will be IASA members: Lyn Romano, Ed Block, Aart Van der Wal, John King and John Sampson. In addition, Mrs Gwyneth Dunwoody, a member of the UK Houses of Parliament and Chairperson of the Select Committee on Transport, will be speaking of aviation safety from a uniquely UK/European perspective.

Among the matters that will be addressed are:

1.       Wiring (different wire types, their characteristics, hazards and installation practices).

2.       Insulation Blankets (within the context of APA 87-99, 11 August 1999).

3.       IFEN (installation practices, STC procedures and deficiencies in the regulation and oversight of such systems).

4.       Database Omissions (the lack of a cohesive system for the reporting, classification and assimilation of aircraft incidents).


Your Input


We would welcome any papers that you would like to submit or any specific matters that you would like us to address. You will of course understand that it may not be possible for us to formally present any ideas, however, we will certainly review any proposals that you may have. Your ideas should be sent to



On behalf of IASA we hope that you will attend and we look forward to hearing from you at your earliest convenience.




Lyn Romano


Lyn Romano


IASA (USA) Director of Legal & Public Relations







All media enquiries should be directed to:


Lyn Romano

IASA (USA) Director of Legal & Public Relations

P.O. Box 721

Goldens Bridge

New York

NY 10526



Tel:                  +44 1992 610 797

Fax:                 +44 1992 610 834







IASA Web-Site: