>>Experience, Testing Show That Kapton Wiring is Safe<<
(A Claim Written by Boeing)
Airplane wiring - especially wire insulated with aromatic polyimide known by a trade name, Kapton - has been the subject of recent media reports. The stories - based mainly on anecdotal information and speculation - have left some readers and viewers with the impression that Kapton-insulated wire presents a hazard to the traveling public and has caused airplane accidents.<<
· 1. In 1985, a British Monarch Airlines leased 757 had to make an emergency landing in the Azores due to an 'electrical in-flight arc tracking KAPTON FIRE.' As a result of this electrical fire, Boeing set up an electrical ARC TRACK Lab. to explore the characteristics of KAPTON wire. Kapton type wire, BMS 13-51, proved to be so explosive that Boeing engineers observing Kapton wire arc track testing, were startled to see the results. Some Boeing engineers that were standing TOO CLOSE to the test specimen even had bits of molten metal hit their jackets or shirts during FLASHOVER.
· 2. United AirLines (UAL) in a letter to Boeing in the 1980s said that they would NOT BUY any more 737 and 757 models if they were wired with KAPTON (BMS 13-51) wire. So, as a consequence of that, Boeing began to qualify wire manufacturers for a new "arc resistant' wire type called TKT (Teflon-covered Kapton).
· 3. The wire was qualified in 1991 and I have a letter of commendation from Alex Taylor, Boeing chief engineer of aircraft wiring posted on my site under 'Qualifications'. The wire was manufactured by Tensolite and Teledyne and was installed in 1992 on the 737 and 757 models to satisfy UAL. TKT wire (BMS 13-60) is SAFE. It has a smoke density of less than 2% as compared to Raychem's X-link Tefzel (BMS 13-48 WIRE) which has a smoke density of greater than 96%. BMS 13-48 type wire is used on Boeing models 747, 767 and 777 (fly-by wire model). Ask Boeing why they don't use BMS 13-60 wire on all of their models. If they say it was a supply problem, then get back to me and I'll give you the name of the CEO of Tensolite, who will tell you that all Boeing had to do was ask and they could have supplied Boeing with all the TKT wire that they needed.
>>In reality, Kapton has proven itself to be a safe, high-performing general-purpose wire insulation in Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, Airbus and Lockheed commercial airplanes since the early 1970s. The operating history of thousands of commercial airplanes operating over millions of hours has not revealed any significant safety concerns.<<
· 4. Here comes the 'Russian Roulette' ODDS that are always quoted by Travel agencies, Airlines, FAA, DoT, airplane manufacturers and the ATA as well as the insurers. Tell that to the passengers who were killed on the 737 in Manila in 1990, Swissair 111, and many more deadly crashes. Maybe that is why the air industry including the government always makes reference to the cause of crashes as a 'MECHANICAL MALFUNCTION.' Mechanical implies something mechanical NOT WIRE!
· 5. >>The military environment is very different from commercial jets<<. Let's compare that statement with the following: If you place a stick of dynamite in a Indy 500 race car and another stick in a chauffeur driven limo, the environments are very different. Now can you say that the stick of dynamite isn't as dangerous in the limo? Kapton wire is as dangerous as a stick of dynamite so don't let them fool you into believing the environment makes Kapton wire less dangerous.
>>. . . . the Navy uses a high pH solution to wash aircraft on carriers. Exposure to this solution in combination with exposure to UV rays has been found to cause a chemical breakdown of Kapton insulation.<<
· 6. Would you say that a 2% solution of salt water was as dangerous as UV rays and high wash pH solution? You should see what a little 2% solution does to Kapton wire being tested for wet arc tracking. Explosive display! Like a large Chinese firecracker going off with little nodules of flying molten metal copper alloy as shown by one of the pictures I have posted on my web site.
>>After a lengthy test and evaluation period, both companies identified new wire constructions to replace Kapton as general-purpose wire.<<
· 7. As mentioned earlier, the ONLY reason Boeing had to come up with the Spec BMS 13-60 wire was because UAL refused to buy anymore 737 and 757 models because of Kapton arcing problems.
>>The company continues to monitor and validate our understanding of airplane wiring conditions through participation in industry/government programs.<<
· 8. The ATA tells the FAA, NTSB, DOT, and other Aviation Authorities that “WIRE is WIRE” and they feel that they can live with the idea that the ODDS favor the passenger making a safe trip. So, once in a while, a plane goes down, they can live with the costs of family suits versus correcting the basic problem of unsafe aircraft wire. After all, they have been very successful in keeping the traveling public in the dark for three decades.
Just this last week, the FAA admitted that a "low-level (electrical) spark can set the insulation blankets on fire. This was a major step for the FAA and was forced by an input from the Canadian sr111 investigators (who’d found a quantity of burnt thermal/acoustic blankets. Last week, Swissair, Swissair Group, Delta airlines and Boeing said that they would pay compensatory damages to the SR 111 families if they agreed not to "pursue punitive damages." This was a first for the Air Industry. If the Kapton insulation wire on Swissair 111 wasn't considered dangerous, then why are the defendants NOT fighting compensatory damages? Simply because by doing so they avoid a much more potentially damaging “discovery process” that would precede litigation based on willful misconduct and “pain and suffering”. It was a straightforward commercial decision on their part.
I rest my case. I was the person who set up Boeing’s Arc Track Wire-Test Lab. So you should appreciate that I know the facts of the matter. BOEING, the FAA and its associate enterprise the ATA (Air Transport Association) are anxious that the whole question of wiring types not be focused upon – simply because it would be too expensive to fix. So over many years accidents like Valujet 592 have always been attributed to other convenient causes. However, as has been very apparent all along, the VJ592 oxygen generators were simply fuel for the fire. No-one has been able to demonstrate that the oxygen generators would spontaneously combust. And then came TWA800 and sr111. The cover-up is beginning to unravel.
Wiring and cable expert
37 years an employee of Boeing Co