IFE Changes Wrought by SR-111

Posted 2/17/2003 1:55 AM
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Changes since the FAA review of

Swissair Flight 111

The FAA says it has acted to ensure that existing and future jets with in-flight entertainment systems do not have the same design features as those on Flight 111. The FAA has:

  • Issued more than 50 "airworthiness directives" ordering airlines to inspect wiring, or take steps to correct wiring problems, on MD-11 jets.
  • Rewritten its guidelines for supplemental type certificates (STC's) and designated alteration stations (DAS) and held meetings to educate its designees (DER's).

Among other things, the new guidelines require increased FAA oversight and more interaction between the agency and the designated alteration station. The FAA must be notified if the scope of a project changes, and a foreign government must be notified and invited to participate before any work begins on a foreign-registered aircraft. Despite these and other changes, some designees say the FAA still lacks the technical expertise and the manpower to ensure that changes critical to the safety of an aircraft are done properly.

The designee system is still "too loose," says Nick Lacey, a former senior FAA official who left the agency last year. "There's a lot of room for improvement."

He faults the system for allowing companies to shop around for designees that suit them and the FAA's shortage of expertise, manpower and resources to oversee the paperwork that designees submit.

Despite the FAA's efforts to improve procedures and guidelines, they're still not understandable even to him, Lacey says.

"If reasonably intelligent people come to different conclusions about FAA advisories, that's not the way the aviation system should be designed," he says.

The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, also says it has concerns about the designee program, and it plans to look into whether the FAA provides proper oversight.

Boeing's Answer (1)  

Boeing's Answer (2)

Latest Manifestation

  The Insider's Story of the Swissair MD-11's IFEN System (as featured on SR-111)