IT IS A
Subject: Latest e-mail received today
Date: Sun, 10 Jan 1999 15:03:22 EST
To: EdwBlock@aol.com, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
CC: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, MGoldfein@belo-DC.com, RWROLAND@aol.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, RCOULTHART@ninenet.com.au, Res.Gehriger@sfdrs.srg-ssr.ch, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ed et al,
I received this today and am also enclosing my answer.
I have only just come across your site, having only been linked since Christmas.
It is most interesting, as it was my function in the Royal Air Force, as a
Chief Technician, to be the Engineering Authority responsible for all types of
electrical cables and interconnect devices used on our aircraft.
Between 1989 and 1991 I carried out in depth investigations into all aircraft
electrical fires, which highlighted the Kapton problem to the Royal Air Force.
Our research led us to do our own Wet and Dry arc tests and develop our own
Defence Standards for testing. A major amount of time was also spent in
liaisons with other Air Forces, Airlines, Aircraft Manufactures and Wire Manufacturers.
Having carried out Arc Tracking Tests on a whole range of wire types myself, I
soon got to recognize the tell-tale signs which identified a Kapton Fire in an
aircraft environment. A program of briefings and cable management lectures
was introduced to highlight the problem to our engineers, which then resulted
in the problem, and the extent, being exposed for what it was.
As I sat on the Defence Standard working committees, I found that although the
Royal Air Force recognized the problem, British Aerospace, British Airways,
Civil Aviation Authority and BICC Cables always suppressed the whole Kapton
argument. This always made me feel that maybe we had got the whole thing
wrong and were blowing it out of all proportion. We were also accused of being
misled by the ETFE cable manufacturer. (This is RAYCHEM)
Although Kapton had a known failure mode, it was perceived that the problem
was more with fighter type aircraft. This due to the tight bend radius of
cable looms, restricted space, high G forces, overservicing and dirty/wet
servicing environments. Our initial findings with British Airways did not
confirm the same problems. Or, as suspected, they did not want to announce the
problem. It always appeared at meetings that BA and the CAA had hidden
agendas! We did manage to get some success by convincing Lufthansa, through
Kevin Nunn, of the problem - they then developed their own policies for the Kapton.
Although I left the Royal Air Force in 1993, after 23 years service, I would
imagine that I am still bound by the Official Secret's Act. This preventing
me listing military aircraft accidents that could be attributed to Kapton
Fires. But suffice to say not only did major fires occur but the power of the
Arc, once initiated, also is suspected of causing catastrophic failure of
structure i.e. control rods. A simulated test replicated this failure mode
during the investigation.
It is welcome to see that all my efforts during those years was not in vain
and that the subject is now getting the recognition it deserves. Military
aircrew enviably have a means of escape when things go wrong - which is not a
luxury that airline passengers have. The military concern was mainly that a
small amount of damage could bring a fighter down - be it missile or minor
chaffing of the loom!
Keep up the good work and look forward to an early resolution of the problem.
Unfortunately due to the circumstances of the Job Market I am no longer in the
aerospace business, but a Project Manager for a Railway Signalling company. If
I can be of any further assistance please do not hesitate to contact me as the
subject is dear to my heart.
Another tech and myself were responsible for designing and building Boeing's
arc tracking lab. I did the electrical design and the other guy did the
mechanical design. We were given letters of commendation by Alex Taylor,
chief engineer for Boeing on A/C wire installation and design.
On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the worst, KAPTON wire rates a 10+. Any
A/C wired with KAPTON, be it military or commercial, is an airplane riding
with a potential incendiary bomb inside the A/C ready to go off if the
conditions are just right. But TEFZEL is a 6 or 7 as far as danger is
concerned. I showed Alex Taylor, during DRY ARC TRACKING tests, that
TEFZEL could also be excited and dangerous. When he saw how I was able to
set off TEFZEL, he called Raychem's wire designer, Frank LaFetra, and told him
what I did. Needless to say, he flew up to Seattle right away. He said that he had
been trying for the better part of 5 years to do what I did but he couldn't
excite the wire. He wanted to know how I did it. I showed him and he was
surprised. TEFZEL is very soft insulation compared to KAPTON. We had a
variable speed agitator. When I slowed down the motor, heat built up as it
was arcing, and when 2 wires eventually were down to the bare wire and
FLASHOVER took place, the insulation material caught fire, plenty of smoke and
the fire travelled for a distance until electrical energy quit. Either circuit breakers
tripped, and/or wire was destroyed (melted) and then the fire stopped. People
have been killed on Swissair 111, VALUJET 592 and many other airplanes both
commercial and military due to POORLY DESIGNED CHEMICAL
CONSTRUCTION of the INSULATION MATERIAL of A/C wire. Major
changes have to be made by the Air Industry, NOW!!!
Would you mind if I put you in contact with several investigative reporters.
One is Tim Clark a British reporter. Another is Steven Thorne of Canadian
Press. And another is Rossco Coulthart of Australia. Also Res Gehriger of
Swiss TV. David Evans is the editor of Air Safety Week and I have been
contact with David for months and have been quoted in his weekly Air Safety
Weekly publication several times. I have made contacts with several overseas
contacts. You see foreigners are killed also and because our FAA/NTSB is so
corrupt, I believe it is going to take pressure from foreign
countries/airlines to get MAJOR CHANGES made as far as Air Safety is
concerned or Boeing stands to lose many more major contracts to AIRBUS. Let
me know because these people are concerned about the KAPTON A/C wiring.
I've been interviewed on DATELINE TV and they may be showing their program
very soon. It features KAPTON wire being tested and the resulting explosive
results. Tom McSweeny of the FAA has his head in the sand. He says "the FAA
doesn't know of any problems with KAPTON as far as commercial A/C are
concerned." He says, "military aircraft have a different environment." But I
compare KAPTON to a stick of dynamite. It doesn't matter if you place a stick
of dynamite in an INDY 500 race car or a chauffer-driven limo, it is still
dangerous. KAPTON is the stick of dynamite.
If you have any test documents or can get them, I sure would appreciate it.
There is a group of us Air Safety Activists and we are bound to make changes
to prevent more passenger deaths. Then the people that have died will NOT have
died in vain - both military or civilian. You can't be held accountable by the
military if national security is not an issue. Military personnel killed in
aircraft, due to bad wiring insulation is NOT a national security issue. I
think Tim Clarke can set you free on this issue. Anyway, let me know about
the contacts. Let other people know about my web site. I now have a digital
picture of me posted under qualifications.
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