Subject:  Avionics Bays and such
Date: Wed, 21 Oct 1998 02:43:55 +0800
From: IASA Safety <>
To: David Evans <>
References: 1

I've amended bits of that "Letter to a Passenger". You can see (or copy it from):


My suggestions for your bullets follows (take your pick):

"The A to Z of Quitting Smoking"


Points to Ponder

(there are no easy answers)

md11sr.jpg (11334 bytes)

a. Is circuit-breaker technology keeping up with modern electronics?

b. Do crews in glass cockpits know when CB's have popped? More importantly
    do they know when they haven't, but should have? (i.e. when they've
    malfunctioned and are themselves a fire hazard). Are CB's functionally
    tested from time to time? If not, how do you monitor their health?

c. What guidance is being given to crews in their Operations Manuals about
    resetting popped circuit breakers? Once, twice, never? Are any banned from
    resets? Should they be? What about partially-popped ganged circuit breakers?
    Pull them all, reset or leave them as is?

d. Is it desirable that crews should have inflight access to CB panels? Is
    it true that in some aircraft (eg MD11) crews do not have access? Should
    cargo holds and avionics bays have TV cameras for crews to vis check

e. Is a third man systems supervisor (i.e. Flt Eng) relevant in a glass
    cockpit? What about when the automated systems are on the fritz? Has he a
    role? Is it a good training route for F/O and command?

f. Do crews feel that their smoke checklists are adequate? After sr111,
   who would rather be able to rapidly select a stand-alone "get-you-home"
   virgin bus and kill all the normal electrics? It's felt that, by going this
   route, "smelt smoke" is less likely to become "felt fire", (particularly
   when you're carrying the metallized mylar insulation blankets and Kapton

g. Are you happy with your quick-donning smoke mask and goggles? Or would a
    full-face mask be better? Would a Grimes light mounted on the forehead of a
    full-face mask be a good idea for when the lights go out?

h. Are you happy with the hand-held fire extinguisher in your cockpit, or
    isn't there one? Who'd use it and how? Bearing in mind that it can take
    quite a while to get down to ten thou and depressurize, how do you feel
    about nitrogen-inerting suppression of fires on the flight deck? Or both the
    flight deck and a sealed avionics bay? Do you think there should be a
    fire-wall between the avionics bay and the flight deck?

i.  Skippers, are you happy about despatching your FO's aft in an emergency
    to check out cabin staff reports (or do you see that detracting from a safe
    operation during an emergency?)

j.  Since sr111 there's been a rash of crews throwing their aircraft at the
    nearest available on getting the merest sniff of smoke. Is this a good thing
   or is some-one going to needlessly bend a jet by taking rash action?

k. When you have your cockpit fire are you going to request nicely from ATC
     or REQUIRE? Will you be waiting until ATC tells you you're overwater and can
     commence fuel-dump or will you just let it rip?

l.  In your aircraft, when your primary instruments go down, are the
    standby flight instruments optimally positioned for IMC ops, reasonably
    positioned, poorly positioned, abysmally positioned or bloody-well outa

m. Have you seen your cockpit on a dark night with the lighting you'd be
     left with after the smoke checklist has been run? If not, why not? If you
     have, how do you feel about it? If the smoke was fairly thick would a
     focussed (versus flood) light on a headband be a good thing?

n. How's your sim instructor run your smoke detail? Is it realistic? Does
    he run it to a natural conclusion or do you taper off into general
    discussion because it's very hard to realistically simulate?

o. Assuming time is available on a long overwater hop, do you think that
    ditching because of intense smoke or fire is a survivable option in your
    aircraft type? Or would you prefer to have better (selectable) electrical
    fall-back positions - action being taken as soon as electrical smoke is
    detected or smelt?

p. How vulnerable to carry-on duty-free spirits or undeclared hazardous
    cargo hold items do you feel? Or do you think that your first fire will be
    electrical? or smokers in toilets?

q. Do you consider that harsh manoeuvre and extreme attitudes for rapid
    descent that get you down quickly and avoid lost time are warranted when all
    you've got is a strong burning smell? Is it acceptable, in an emergency, to
    extend your gear at high IAS to increase rate of descent?

r. Is the configuration and speed band for fuel-dumping critical in your
   aircraft or can you safely infringe those limits in an emergency? If you
   forget to stop your dump what level will your aircraft dump down to?
   (preselected or stand-pipe?). If you land whilst still dumping is it an
   increased hazard? Does dumping cease automatically in the landing

s. Have you ever practiced landing and stopping a very overweight aircraft
    in the sim? Do you know your max reversal and max wheel-braking speeds? Will
    anti-skid, reverse thrust, spoilers and landing lights always be available
    in your aircraft type after the smoke checklist?

t. Does your jet depressurize on landing or is that a hazard in itself?
   (remember the Saudia L1011 at Riyadh. No-one could get the doors open and
   the engines stayed running).

u. Because of public awareness of sr111 are you worried about passenger
    panic or cockpit invasion in the event of an onboard in-fuselage fire?

v. If the other pilot collapsed due to smoke would you have the cabin staff
    extricate him or leave him be rather than cause passenger panic?

x. What's your Company policy for emergency checklists? Challenge and reply
    or PNF runs a solo checklist?

y. Do you think you can (or could) tell the difference between oil-smoke in
    the aircon and an electrical fire?

z. For cargo types, do you think that hazardous cargo should be carried in
    a jettisonable compartment? (i.e. containers be capable of emergency
    ejection or jettison).

Might leave you a bit spaced out. Perhaps it'd be more appropriate to a
stand-alone quiz or questionnaire? You could call it: "The A to Z of Quitting Smoking"


IASA Safety

David Evans wrote:

> Great stuff, keep it coming.
> I talked to the NTSB's Dr. Bernard Loeb yesterday afternoon. He
> said fire detection and suppression in avionics bays is being
> looked at. Preliminary, of course, but Swissair 111 is much on
> their minds.
> I'm going to do a story for Air Safety Week covering his
> concerns. If you have any thoughts, I will be pleased to present,
> say, 3-5 bullet points from you in a side box. Please send soonest,
> as I must have this next issue completed by close of business
> Wednesday.
> David

Back to the VIRGIN BUS Index
email.gif  feedback to author

Go to Dagger Dirk Index Page

HOME PAGEhomew.gif

BACK on your Browser for the main story