Defective Wiring Is High On The List Of Potential Sources Of The Smoke That Befell Swissair 111
Kapton a hazardous wiring for use in aircraft
Aviation attorney, Arthur Alan Wolk, who has done substantial research in the field of aircraft fires, notes that the United States Navy refused to allow the continued use of Kapton in Navy fighters because of its poor performance, specifically its propensity for arcing and the propagation of dangerous fire-producing sparks. The FAA was made aware long before this crash that Kapton was a hazardous wiring for use in aircraft, yet did not mandate more stringent inspections of aircraft in which Kapton was used as electrical insulation.
Kapton was described by DuPont, its manufacturer, as having "outstanding thermal, mechanical, chemical and electrical properties." In fact, Boeing engineers concluded that Kapton was completely unsuitable because when wires arced within the Kapton insulation, Kapton became a carbon track, allowing further propagation of the electrical arcing, much like a dynamite fuse.
This clearly made Kapton a bomb waiting to go off in any aircraft in which it was utilized.
It is indefensible that both the FAA and the manufacturer of this aircraft would permit the use of electrical wiring in a civilian, passenger carrying airliner, knowing that in an aircraft in which the crew is equipped with an ejection seat, the material was found to be unsuitable because of its fire and arcing propagation characteristics, says Wolk.
This will be undoubtedly a very ugly and embarrassing investigation for the industry and a further embarrassment to the FAA, which already has thousands of lives etched on its tombstone of ineptitude, says Wolk.