The Undercurrents in WIRE

A chronology of Defective Oversight

Introduction:  This is the story of bad aircraft wiring insulation in the late 20th Century. As plagues go, it hasn’t killed many. However it is a plague because it is everywhere, it won’t go away, much of it is dangerous and aging ungracefully. You cannot innoculate against it and you cannot isolate it like leprosy, but you can preach against ignoring its predations. Ed Block is one of the pre-eminent preachers and this is his story. It is actually also the story of a denial process that continues to this day.

Mariners have always feared fire at sea. Passengers and pilots are more fearful of fire in the air because there is no “abandon ship” and no life-boats. Because it is economically impossible to rewire airliners we seem to be stuck with an intractable problem. If you, like me, are aware of your mortality, then we probably have your attention and you should read on. You may conclude that we are relating the tale of the post-deregulation politicization of Aviation Safety. The story starts with the young Ed Block in the late 1960’s.

Year

Development

7 Nov 69 – 73

US Navy Anti-submarine Warfare Electronics

8 May 70

Application to attend US Naval Academy approved

28 May 74

Ed Block begins working at the Defense Industrial Supply Center in Philadelphia PA

10 Aug 75

Honorable Discharge Certificate from US Navy

8 Dec 78

Awarded a Certificate of Training on Defense Contracting by the Navy Dept

15 Jan 80

Awarded Letter of Commendation for saving $28,000

21 Oct 80

Letter of Appreciation to Ed Block for outstanding support at a Joint Military/Industry Coordination Meeting from the Defence Electronics Supply Center

10 Dec 80

Awarded a Certificate of Commendation from the Director of the Technical Directorate for solving a complex supply support problem.

28 May 80

Certificate of Achievement from the Commanding Officer at DISC for ten years of Distinguished Federal Service

20 Jul 81

Ed Block awarded Certificate of Achievement for resolving a complex Military/Industry Specification Problem that had lasted over two years.

10 Aug 81

Received award for Outstanding DISC PERSONNEL OF THE YEAR for saving $2 BILLION DOLLARS

31 Aug 81

Ed Block receives support from the Canadian Navy for his suggestion to revise a defective specification for Radio Frequency cable (no underground nuclear testing, airports closed, ships and submarines not leaving port).

4 Dec 81

Ed Block submits a Beneficial Suggestion that will net the US Govt 16 million dollars recovered under the RICO Act. In 1987 (the suggestion named the specific companies who would later be indicted and the specific scheme they used to defraud the Govt.)

17 Dec 81

Ed Block briefs the Technical Directorate on aircraft wiring problems.

20 Jan 82

Ed Block briefs the National Electrical Mfgs Assoc on defective wire in aircraft.

24 Feb 82

Chairman of Society of Automotive Engineers acknowledges Ed Block’s expertise in aircraft wiring and requests Block be able to attend next Mtg on NATO wire considerations.

4 Aug 82

Ed Block brief Colonel Gwell, Director of Engineering regarding defective aircraft wiring.

27 Aug 82

Ed Block saves $20,000 on alternative cable construction for Boeing’s cruise missile.

10 Sep 82

Ed Block briefed the Joint Logistic Commander’s Ad Hoc Group on defective aircraft wiring.

20 Sep 82

Ed Block requests Society of Automotive Engineers Committee to survey all members that are aircraft mfgs, on which aircraft have what wire, etc.

22 Sept 82

Ed Block’s Division Chief, regarding Block’s Trip Report states: “We should not be ironing DOD’s dirty linen in public”.

19 Nov 82

(280) individual Freedom of Information requests come in to Commanding Officer at DISC for the “Ed Block File”.

22Nov 82

Editor, Defense Electronics Magazine flies in from California, picks up a copy of the “Ed Block File” under the Freedom of Information Act. It covers defective aircraft wiring (a chronology).

3 Jan 83

Defense Electronics Magazine Article comes out based on “Ed Block File” – TV Reporting on article “Unsafe Aircraft – Billions of Dollars needed to solve this Complex Problem of Sole Source Intrigue and Deficient Wire Selection”.

2 Feb 83

Ed Block attends Society of Automotive Engineers meeting where Boeing admits the “splitting” problems that they have had with extruded Teflon for twelve years – and they would therefore no longer use it for new design (this being the type wire that was used in the Center Fuel Tank of the 747 TWA800 aircraft). They took no action however to change, or even inspect the existing wiring already in use on aircraft. Mr Block informed the NTSB of this on 12 Feb 98.

8 Mar 83

Ed Block awarded a Letter of Appreciation for saving almost $2.5 Million Dollars

9 Apr 83

Ed Block briefs Command at DISC on situation of aircraft wiring; industry in an uproar over sole source, bogus wire in stock. Article in Defense Electronics magazine, defective wire in stock never disposed of, and if this situation exists in this case with wire, billions of dollars worth of other supply parts now potentially BOGUS.

17 May 83

Defense Logistics Agency Headquarters “overrules” Ed Block’s Essential Comments on “defective” wire specifications and then withdraws them.

20 May 83

Ed Block’s article published in Compound Chronicle, regarding technical support of the Navy.

1 Sep 83

Ed Block’s article published in Defense Logistics Agency’sDIMENSION” Magazine.

Sep 83

Ed Block briefs the Defense Criminal Investigative Service on concerns over bogus and defective wire that is being supplied from fraudulent companies.

5 Jun 84

Ed Block briefed Congressman Kostmayer on defective aircraft wiring.

5 Jun 84

Ed Block briefs Senator Specter of PA on defective wiring in aircraft.

7 Jun 84

Ed Block awarded  Performance Award Certificate for Special Achievement for resolving a 17 year old problem the Solicitor General’s Office couldn’t even solve. It saved hundreds of millions of dollars for the US Government.

3 Jul 84

Congressman Kostmayer requests Cong. Jack Brooks, Chairman of the Committee on Government Oversight to investigate faulty wiring/procurement concerns raised by Ed Block.

17 Aug 84

 Special Achievement award given to Ed Block for Superior Performance.

1985

YEAR OF THE CRASH” 200 die in plane crashes

20 Jun 85

Ed Block awarded a Beneficial Suggestion Award for saving hundreds of millions of dollars. Submitted in 1980, 2 year max response time on submittals?

13 Feb 86

Bucks County Courier Times article on Ed Block’s reporting of defective wiring in aircraft.

11 Nov 87

Ed Block briefs the National Security Division of GAO on concerns with aircraft wiring being defective.

23 Dec 87

Dept of Defense Inspector General’s Office announces Federal Grand Jury Indictments seeking $15 million under the RICO Act for the very same companies Ed Block identified in a Beneficial Suggestion on 4 Dec 1981. He also spelled out the scheme these companies used to defraud the U.S. The Suggestion was turned down in 1982, stating that the submitter “showed a serious lack of understanding of Procurement”. Those Procurement specialists later served time in prison. Ed Block raised this same issue on 5 Apr 83 at a Command briefing at DISC and again in Sep 83 when briefing the Defense Criminal Investigative Service Agents that took credit for the bust three years later.

6 Jan 88

National Security Division of GAO Briefs Secretary of Defense Carlucci on the concerns of Ed Block about defective aircraft wiring.

5 May 88

Ed Block briefed the Energy and Commerce Committee on defective wire in aircraft.

22 Aug 88

Congressman Kostmayer alerts the FAA over concerns from Ed Block on defective wiring.

10 Oct 88

Congressman Dingell, Chairman Energy and Commerce Committee, requests a response from the FAA based on the concerns raised by Ed Block on defective wiring.

1988-1998

Ed Block repeatedly requested assistance from the Eastern District Court, the US Claims Court, the Merit Systems Protection Board, the Office of Special Counsel, three Presidents, two First Ladies, the Attorney General Janet Reno, 3 Secretaries of Defense, the Inspector General of the Dept of Defense (2) and the US Supreme Court to no avail.

15 Sep 89

Government Accountability Project requests Ed Block to work with a University of San Francisco Study on exposing corruption.

Sep 90

Congressman Kostmayer contacts Congressman Sikorski, House Committee Chairman, about the concerns of defective aircraft wiring raised by Ed Block.

18 Sep 90

Congressman Kostmayer requests Senator Sasser, Chairman of the Govt Affairs Committee, to investigate the concerns of Ed Block about defective aircraft wiring.

Oct 90

Ed Block contacted Sen Kennedy about the defective wiring on aircraft.

Dec 90

Ed Block briefed Senator Heinz PA., on defective wiring in aircraft. (he died in a crash 5 months later due to a faulty light in the cockpit – a symptom of damaged wire.)

29 Oct 91

CBS News, David Martin requests the “Ed Block File” under the Freedom of Information Act.

01 May 92

Ed Block briefs the Aviation Safety Institute on defective wiring in aircraft.

4 Mar 92

Congressman Kostmayer asks Congressman Conyers, Chairman Govt Operations Committee to investigate Ed Block’s concerns about aircraft wiring being dangerous.

2 Apr 92

Ed Block briefs the GAO’s Transportation Division in Washington DC about aircraft wire problems.

26 May 92

GAO’s Transportation Division requests answers from the FAA on concerns raised by Ed Block on wiring problems in aircraft.

26 May 92

GAO’s Transportation Division requests answers from the NTSB on concerns raised by Ed Block on wiring problems in aircraft.

9 Jun 92

The Aviation Safety Institute agrees to work with Ed Block on aircraft wiring problems after they received a copy of the “Ed Block File”.

10 Sep 92

Ed Block briefs the National Security Division of GAO on the problems with wire in aircraft.

20 Sep 92

Ed Block briefs Sen Harrison Wofford’s Office on problems with defective aircraft wire.

5 Aug 92

Ed Block briefs Energy and Commerce Committee on concerns about defective wiring in aircraft.

10 Oct 92

GAO’s Transportation Division response to letters to the FAA and NTSB regarding Ed Block’s briefing on aircraft wiring problems on 2 Apr 92.

5 Feb 93

Ed Block appears on Irv Homer’s radio program to debate Senator Roth on the Inspector Generals’ Act.

22 Feb 93

The US Supreme Court denies Ed Block’s pro se Writ of Certiorari.

25 Feb 93

US Claims Court awards compensation to Ed Block for his Beneficial Suggestions as a Federal Employee (one saved over $182,000 and ended a 17 year old problem)

22 Mar 93

President Clinton ignores Ed Block’s request to Brief him on the problems of aircraft wiring and in trying to report it.

23 Jun 93

Dept of Defense Inspector General Derek Van Der Shaaf replies to Congressman Greenwood’s 10 May 93 letter on Ed Block’s concerns about wire problems. He stated that there was no contact with Ed Block on the issue of the Grand Jury Indictments by the Defense Criminal Investigative Service (later retracted upon proof of meetings).

22 Nov 93

Federal Times Newspaper article featuring Ed Block and the plight of those that expose truth.

1 Jan 94

Ed Block briefs Congressman Greenwood on his further attempts to expose problems with wiring on aircraft.

10 Jan 94

Dept of Defense Inspector General Derek Van Der Shaaf replies to Congressman Greenwood upon receipt of proof that Ed Block had in fact briefed those same investigators 3 years before the Indictments were even handed down (1983), regarding those exact companies and scheme. Also Ed Block’s earlier 1981 Beneficial Suggestion (turned down in 1982) cited those very same companies named in the scheme to defraud the U.S. Mr Van Der Shaaf, once confronted, said of Ed Block’s involvement, “He somehow forecast the results”.

23 Nov 94

Ed Block briefs Senator John Glenn, Chairman of the Governmental Affairs Committee via Senator Wofford, on concerns with Aerospace vehicle wiring, and the problems with trying to report it.

30 Nov 95

Bucks County Courier Times article on Ed Block and the history of Ed Block’s reporting of aircraft wire problems.

24 Nov 93

Congressman Kostmayer nominates Ed Block for the White House Fellowship Program for saving billions of dollars for the American tax-payer.

17 Nov 94

Ed Block briefs the FAA on problems with wire in aircr5aft including the effects of degraded wire, spurious signals to control surfaces, wire shorts affecting auto-pilots, and the shorting out of auto-pilots completely.

18 Nov 94

Ed Block briefs the NTSB on defective wiring problems.

21 Jan 95

Ed Block gets David Hinson, Administrator of the FAA, to form a Joint Task Force with the NTSB to study problems with wiring in aircraft.

6 Feb 95

FAA responds to Ed Block’s briefing on “degraded” aircraft wire. They say they are totally unfamiliar with this matter and feel it is beyond their level of expertise.

3 Mar 95

FAA releases report on results of problems with wires degrading. They could ignite flammable material without tripping Circuit Breakers.

20 Apr 95

Senator Santorum requests meeting with Dept of Defense Inspector General to address Block concerns on defective wiring in aircraft.

8 May 95

Bucks County Courier Times article on Ed Block’s efforts to help other whistleblowers by getting a local teacher’s union to contribute money to keep a School District Employee who blew the whistle on contract fraud from losing his house and car.

17 May 95

Ed Block briefs the Defense Criminal Investigative Service and Senator Santorum’s Office for two hours on defective wiring in aircraft. This included his being the catalyst for the subsequent Federal Grand Jury Indictments since he first raised these specific concerns in 1981 and twice in 1983, to the very same investigators that acknowledged an investigation was initiated in response to Ed Block’s reporting of this issue.

28 Jun 95

Ed Block once again briefs the Defense Criminal Investigative Service for 1 hour on defective wiring in aircraft.

18 Jul 95

 Boeing Corp responds to the NTSB on defective wiring concerns raised by Ed Block

20 Jul 95

McDonnell Douglas Corp responds to the NTSB on wiring concerns raised by Ed Block

10 Aug 95

Boeing issues a Service Bulletin on the wires on 747’s that need to be inspected/repaired. NOTE: This was not done on TWA800 as of 17 July 1996

12 Sep 95

Eleanor Hill, Dept of Defense Inspector General, that replaced “now retired” Derek Van Der Shaaf, responds to Senator Santorum’s 20 Apr 95 letter regarding Ed Block’s concerns on faulty wiring in aircraft.

23 Sep 95

 Ed Block appears on Pearl Palto Radio Program on faulty wiring in aircraft.

30 Nov 95

Bucks County Courier Times article on Ed Block and his efforts to report problems with aircraft wiring.

26 Jan 96

FAA notifies Ed Block that the study (initiated per his request on 21 Jan 1995) on aircraft wiring problems, is still not complete.

18 Mar 96

The Josephson Institute of Ethics informs Ed Block that they intend to use his information on faulty aircraft wire in a future article on integrity and courage.

12 Apr 96

Dept of Defense Inspector General Eleanor Hill responds to Ed Block’s letters of 26 Feb 96 and 6 Mar 96 stating there are NO problems with aircraft wire, and that Mr Block had presented no evidence. (there were two prior 2 hour presentations given to the Defense Criminal Investigative Service by Ed Block with a staff member of Senator Santorum in attendance at Ed Block’s home)

16 Apr 96

Ed Block briefs the US House Committee on National Security’s Sub-Committee on Military Procurement on why 147 F-14’s have crashed. These aircraft had the same faulty wiring as the TWA Flight 800 aircraft (Poly-X)

11 May 96

Valujet 592 crashes – anonymous witness tells the FAA the plane was notorious for bad wiring – 110 lives lost – the wiring on this 27 year old plane wouldn’t even pass the FAA’s only test for wire flammability.

16 May 96

The FAA issues a Directive to inspect the cockpit wiring assembly on all aircraft like Valujet 592 for defective wires that were a source of “fire and uncontrolled smoke” (but too late for those 110 lives lost).

18 Jun 96

Ed Block, per the recommendation of the NTSB and the FAA, requests Tom McSweeny, Director of the FAA’s Certification Branch to request the FAA Administrator to create an independent Office of Wire and Cable technology

3 Jul 96

Dept of Defense Inspector General Eleanor Hill responds to Senator Santorum’s Freedom of Information request for files on Ed Block.

17 Jul 96

TWA Flight 800 crashes and 230 lives are lost – cause? Faulty wire.

24 Jul 96

Dept of Defense Inspector General Eleanor Hill responds to Senator Santorum about the defective wire on aircraft concerns raised by Ed Block, stating she, “does not anticipate conducting further inquiries into matters raised by Mr Block.”

18 Jul 96

Ed Block briefs the FAA on his continuing concerns about defective wiring in aircraft.

9 Aug 96

The FAA orders inspections on the wiring of fuel pumps in 747’s due to concerns that they could cause an explosion.

13 Nov 96

The FAA responds to Ed Block’s concerns on the wiring being defective and upgraded on aircraft and on setting up an independent Office of Wire and Cable Technology. There is no problem with wiring in aircraft according to Boeing and McDonnell Douglas Corporations. No mentions of the Office other than to say the FAA will rely upon the aircraft manufacturers for expertise in this area of wire. The NTSB likewise depends upon the manufacturer’s representatives to do the crash investigations of these aircraft.

13 Dec 96

NTSB issues recommendations on fuel tank wires on the 747.

23 Dec 96

FAA issues Directive to inspect for defective wiring in 747’s.

2 Jan 97

FAA issues Directive on 737 to prepare for uncommanded yaw or roll condition occurrences – same as wiring problem symptoms on F-14’s.

12 Jan 97

FAA orders inspections of boost pump wires on 747’s effective 21 Jan 97.

15 Jan 97

FAA admits causes of 737 crashes in 1991 and 1994 are still unresolved.

21 Jan 97

FAA issues Directive to inspect the 747’s wiring for defects that could cause an explosion.

23 Jan 97

Congressman Greenwood forwards the concerns of Ed Block to Secretary of Defense William Cohen on faulty wiring in aircraft.

12 Feb 97

White House Commission on Aviation Safety and Security (the Gore Commission) issues recommendations on defective wiring based on Ed Block briefing Lt Colonel Rick Dugan.

3 Apr 97

FAA requests public comments on fuel tank safety – Ed Block responds that defective wiring not only causes fuel-tanks to explode but auto-pilot anomalies, cargo doors to open in flight, hard-over rudders (like on the two unexplained 737’s that crashed mysteriously).

10 Apr 97

Tacoma Washington’s News Tribune article on Ed Block “Aviation Detective”, on defective wire in aircraft. This article cites the recent FAA Directives on 747 wiring coming out. (a year after an Aug 95 Boeing Service Bulletin on this subject. This reporter was then hired by Boeing when he told them he was doing an in-depth story on the wiring problems with their aircraft (after having interviewed Ed Block). [Note that this inspection/repair from 1995 had still not been accomplished on TWA800 by 17 Jul 96).

13 April 97

 Courier Post Newspaper article on Ed Block Briefing the Govt on Wire Problems in aircraft.

21 Apr 97

Ed Block briefs Government Accountability Project on aircraft wiring problems.

2 May 97

Ed Block featured in two part KIRO TV SPECIAL “Down to the Wire” on defective wires in aircraft.

7 May 97

GAO’s National Security Division responds to Senator Greenwood on concerns raised about defective aircraft wiring by Ed Block.

16 May 97

FBI Inspector in Charge responds to Congressman Greenwood about concerns expressed by Ed Block about aircraft wiring standards.

2 Jun 97

Admiral Cook of the Navy Dept responds to Congressman Greenwood about the defective aircraft wire issues raised by Ed Block.

4 Jun 97

Ed Block appears on ABC’s Prime Time Live on TWA800 Special.

5 Jun 97

Bucks County Courier Times article on Ed Block and his quest to report wire problems on aircraft.

20 Jun 97

 Ed Block notifies the FAA to reiterate the issues he raised in his meeting with them 10 Apr 97 on wire problems on 737’s, 747’s and DC-10’s etc.

20 Jun 97

Ed Block rebuts Admiral Cook’s response to Congressman Greenwoods on why more than two billion dollars of taxpayers’ equipment were scrapped due to faulty wiring.

20 Jun 97

Ed Block notifies Secretary of Defense William Cohen on defective wire issues.

23 Jun 97

Congressman Greenwood adds his comments to the Ed Block Letter to the FAA.

23 Jun 97

Congressman Greenwood asks Admiral Cook to respond to Ed Block’s concerns about faulty wire.

1 Jul 97

Air Force One inspected for faulty wiring.

14 Jul 97

FOX News Network interview with Ed Block on aircraft wire problems.

17 july 97

The Trentonian Newspaper article on Ed Block, the whistleblower who exposed problems with aircraft wiring on TWA800.

28 Jul 97

Air Safety Week article on Ed Block’s concerns about defective aircraft wiring, and his plan to deal with it.

29 Jul 97

The FAA’s Tom McSweeny responds to Ed Block saying all his concerns about defective aircraft wiring will be addressed in the White House Commission’s Report’s forthcoming Study (to be done by the FAA and to be completed by Jun 98).

   
 

Defense Inspector General is not. When I complained to President Clinton that his Office created to protect whistleblowers was doing everything but, he sent my letter to the …, Office of Special Counsel.

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