For Immediate Release

Release No. APA 130-98
October 14, 1998
Contact: Drucella Andersen
Phone: 202-267-3883

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will develop — within six months — a new test specification for insulation that will result in increased fire safety on aircraft. The FAA also will propose requiring the use of improved insulation once the new test standard is developed.

Today, the FAA urged Boeing, Airbus, Fokker, and other manufacturers as well as the Air Transport Association and Regional Airline Association to take advantage of any reasonable maintenance opportunity to replace existing insulation materials. Preliminary work has identified materials that provide a substantial increase in fire resistance over some materials now in use. The two identified so far are fiberglass and a material known as Curlon, each wrapped in a polyimide film. Polyimide is the chemical name for Kapton-like compounds that have very high heat resistance characteristics.

Manufacturers and operators are reviewing service bulletins that address possible hidden fire sources to determine the status of compliance. Service bulletins are advisories issued by manufacturers to share information and recommend maintenance and other actions to operators. If necessary, additional service bulletins and new maintenance practices may be developed to reduce possible fire sources while the new standard for insulation is developed. Mandatory airworthiness directives also may be issued.

The FAA also has begun discussions with the international aviation community through the Joint Aviation Authority in Europe and with the British, French and Japanese airworthiness authorities on the work undertaken by the FAA.

In addition to developing the new standard for testing insulation, the FAA will require that existing materials be replaced with insulation that can pass the new test. The new regulation will accept or "grandfather," any aircraft already retrofitted with fiberglass or Curlon, wrapped in polyimide film.