1. IFEN CONTRACTING
In October, 1994 Interactive Flight
Technologies, Inc. [IFT] entered into an Intellectual Property Agreement
with Fortunet, Inc. This license granted IFT a worldwide perpetual to
Fortunets current and future patents, copyrights, trade secrets,
and related know-how covering a computerized system for use in all
fields other than bingo halls. This license is exclusive to
IFT within the airline industry. IFT and Fortunet are family liaised
Question: who was Swissairs
contracting party for IFEN? IFT? Fortunet?
2. DESIGNATED ALTERATION STATION
Swissairs fleet of 16 MD-11s
and 5 B-747s was going to be provided with IFEN from November, 1996
onwards. Neither IFT nor Fortunet held FAA licenses authorizing the
installation of IFEN. Two names in respect of installing IFEN aboard
aircraft have been circulating: Santa Barbara Aerospace [SBA] and Hollingshead.
There is still not adequate information available concerning their functional
roles in this venture. An FAA non-transferable DAS [Designated Alteration
Station] license must have been held by [at least] one of these two
companies to allow approved installation and certification. Additionally,
a Supplemental Type Certificate [STC] must exclusively be issued by
a DAS held licensee. Reports so far show that SBA was DAS license holder
and therefore authorized to issue STC. Hollingshead could either have
supplied specific parts for final IFEN installation [SBA installing
the system in total] or could have been assigned by SBA to install the
About Hollingshead there is some
interesting information available, although coming from their own resources:
Text of an advertisement in Avionics
Magazine, January 1999 (available from Phillips Publishing. Avionics
Magazine 1201 Seven Locks Road Potomac, MD 20854 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
TEL: 301-340-1520 FAX: 301-340-0542 "FOR A TOTAL SOLUTION TO AVIONICS
MODIFICATION, REMEMBER OUR NUMBER 1.
Only one company does it all....Hollingshead
International. We're #1 in avionics modification kits. From start to
finish, Hollingshead takes a total system approach. We design the modification
kit, manufacture the kit (including custom packaging of LRU's (Line
Replaceable Units) and then we not only install the kit, but we even
certify the installation via our Designated Alteration Station (DAS).
By recognizing an understanding all of these critical areas of expertise,
Hollingshead is able to integrate them into a single package that can
save you money, while delivering the highest standards of quality possible.
That's why Hollingshead leads the way in integration and kits for cabin
pressurization upgrades, TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System),
GPS (Global Satellite System), SATCOM (Satellite Communications), smoke
detection/fire suppression, in-flight entertainment and telephone systems.
Our expertise includes advanced interface solutions for all the latest
avionics technologies. For a total solution to avionics modification,
talk to Hollingshead. We're #1 in avionics kits. For more information,
call us at 800-927-2026. Hollingshead International A DAH Company www.hollingsead.com
(there was no "h" following the "s". Browse their
site and see if you can learn anything more. My last address for them
was in Santa Fe Springs, California. If so, the STC if they applied
for it should also be obtainable through the FAA's Pacific Region Office.
Question: what was the specific
function of SBA and Hollingshead in terms of installation and approval?
3. FAA APPROVAL
FAR Part 21 deals with DAS procedures.
FAR covers all possible safety features in respect of installing the
system aboard aircraft. See for further reference Sec 21.439 [Eligibility],
Sec 21.441 [Procedure Manual] and Sec 21.461 [Equivalent Safety Provisions].
FAR leaves all main responsibilities in terms of installation and safety
matters to DAS licensee.
May I specifically refer to Sec
21.463 [Supplemental Type Certificates], [a]:
For each Supplemental Type
Certificate issued under this subpart, the DAS shall follow the procedure
manual prescribed in Sec 21.441 and shall, before issuing the certificate
(1) Submit to the Administrator a
(i) The type design change;
(ii) The airworthiness requirements
(iii) The proposed program for
meeting the applicable airworthiness requirements.
(2) Find that each applicable airworthiness
requirement is met; and
(3) Find that the type of product
for which the STC is to be issued
is of proper design
for safe operation.
The above therefore does not exclude
FAA field inspection, but the responsibility for correct installing
and working is exclusively transferred to DAS.
Question: Did the DAS licensee
obey the correct procedures as described above and did the FAA conduct
one or more field inspections on IFEN installed aboard that aircraft?
If so, has this been properly documented?
4. SUPPLEMENTAL TYPE CERTIFICATE
According to the Swiss Aviation
Agency [Bundesamt für Zivilluftfahrt] STC #ST00236LA-D applied to the
installation of IFEN on sr111 [as well]. This STC was FAA stamped and
dated August 7, 1997, and signed by Mr. Glen Mills. This STC should
have covered the installation of IFEN aboard the first seven aircraft
[including sr111], but was according to my Swiss source - only
applicable to the modification of one aircraft with registration
HB-ICW. This [first] STC [number unknown at time of writing] was FAA
stamped and dated Nov 19, 1996. According to the Swiss Aviation Agency
the STC #ST00236LA-D applied without restrictions - to the installation
of IFEN on all remaining aircraft. Glen Mills being authorized
by the FAA [in respect of DAS qualifications] to issue STC did therefore
not raise [further] questions or doubt about the STC validity. The Swiss
Aviation Agency did not know if Glen Mills needed to have the STC verified
and approved by the FAA in terms of safety and so airworthiness.
Mr. Frank Gomer, IFTs President,
currently e-mailed me and supplied following information [in quote]:
His Message No. 1:
IFT was informed by Swissair on
29 October of its decision to deactivate the company's in-flight entertainment
system on all Swissair MD-11s and 747s. Swissair told IFT that this
precautionary measure was taken in response to recent technical investigations
conducted by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada and by the Technical
Services Division of Swissair.
These investigations, which are
a normal occurence following an aircraft accident, identified some concerns
with the installation of the company's system. However, the company
specifically has been told by representatives of the Transport Safety
Board of Canada, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, and
Swissair that these concerns have not been related, in any way, to the
cause of the crash of Swissair Flight 111. In addition, these agencies
have advised IFT that there has been no indication that its system malfunctioned
or failed during the flight prior to the crash.
The system installed on Swissair
airplanes met all applicable Federal Aviation Regulations and was certified
by the FAA. IFT and its system integrator/installation contractor, Hollingsead
International, Inc., intend to work closely with Swissair to address
any installation concerns and to take the necessary steps that will
allow Swissair to reactivate the system as quickly as possible. Finally,
the company will continue to provide on-site engineering support to
the investigative team of the Canadian Transportation Safety Board in
signed: FRANK GOMER, PRESIDENT
His Message No. 2:
"The STC for the installation
of our system on Swissair MD-11s was issued on November 19, 1996 [my
comments: see: above; this was the first STC that should
only have applied to the modification of one aircraft], and subsequently
amended on December 18, 1996 and January 24, 1997 [my comments:
the author does not refer to STC #ST00236LA-D of August 7, 1997] . PMA
for the MD-11 shipset configuration was issued in 2 parts, dated February
20, and April 18, 1997."
signed: FRANK GOMER, PRESIDENT
Question: there is some confusion
here. Swissair should provide the documents to clarify the exact course
of the STC procedures, and within the correct time line.
5. HORRIFYING HURRY?
Sources in Switzerland and reports
in American and Canadian media point to Swissair having been in a hurry
to have IFEN installed aboard their MD-11 and B-747 fleet. Swissair
presumably considered IFEN an asset to the tools to beat the competition.
As usual purely commercial reasons were the driving force, and not because
[potential] passengers were just waiting for this system.
Hardly any [potential] passenger could have been aware of the entertainment
possibilities of IFEN.
Because of strong competition between
the airlines and the necessity for them to focus on specific advantages,
or in the marketing language - unique-selling-points it was in
the interest of Swissair to focus on IFEN as one of the main tools to
attract more new passengers and to consolidate already existing
customers. The battle field changed from meals and leg space to IFEN.
There was another reason for Swissair
to push IFEN: Swissair would virtually be the first airline offering
video-on-demand features. As far as I know Qantas and Alitalia did not
enter into an agreement with IFT/Fortunet, while further interest was
only shown at that time  by UK based Debonair Airways and Madrid
based Oasis International Airlines.
IFT was particularly interested
in a deal with Swissair. This Swiss national airline could be the yardstick
for future sales to other [main] airlines. It is not beyond imagination
that IFT was willing to offer Swissair a special price/discount deal
to have IFEN installed aboard major part of their long-haul fleet.
For both IFT and Swissair the time
line played an important role. Both were engaged to having IFEN installed
and operative as quickly as possible.
IFTs Vice-President, Mr. Steve
Fieldman, gave following statement to the press: "once those fastidious
Swiss engineers have checked out our system, you dont need any
more due diligence." This statement denies the functionality of
DAS and the FAA. And the gambling features were indeed high on IFTs
after the Chinese the Spanish are the biggest gamblers
in Las Vegas." [Fieldman referred here to Oasis].
Question: under the circumstance
that IFT and Swissair were in a hurry to have IFEN installed it is important
to retrieve documents that clearly show the urgency and that hint on
the priority of installation instead of on the priority of safety.
Questions over laptop power outlet safety
Wire experts have pointed out in
the media that the IFEN installation was amateurishly done, and that
X-link Tefzel was mixed with the original [McDD/Boeings installed]
Kapton wire. Photos clearly show shoddy wire installation techniques.
IFEN was tied to a major electrical power buss [which is against all
customary and correct installation practices], instead of opting for
revamping/distributing IFEN energy lines to a separate buss [CABIN 2].
This decision was taken because of time [the installation would have
taken up much more time, with the aircraft grounded] and finance [correct
installation would have been considerably more costing]. Swissairs
Chief Pilot, Mr. Hildebrand, reported to the media [ASW] that IFEN generated
so much heat that the aircon had to be adjusted see also item paragraph
7]. DAS STC did not prevent the installation company from malpractice.
The mentioned photographs clearly
show that either the FAA did not physically inspect the wire
outlay and the electrical power configuration, or the FAA did it between
two drinks. Taking into consideration FAA 337 form and the gravity of
the changes affecting the aircrafts electrical design, weight
and integrity, it is in my opinion beyond any question that DAS STC
did not relief the FAA from physical thorough inspection of the entire
Question: apart from the
installers culpability there are reasons to believe that no FAA
field inspection was ordered. But if the FAA inspected in accordance
with the gravity of the changes needed to comply with IFEN installation,
field inspection reports must be put available to show their case.
7. SWISSAIR TECH CENTER ZÜRICH
As far as I know all maintenance/overhaul
of Swissairs fleet is done by Swissair Tech Center [coincidentally
the same abbreviation: STC]. STC Zürich must have had all technical
details from ......
TO BE CONTINUED