Release No. APA 37-00
May 25, 2000
Contact: Les Dorr, Jr.
WASHINGTON, DC — The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today
issued final rules ordering operators of 719 Boeing MD-80, MD-88,
MD-90, DC-10 and MD-11 aircraft to replace insulation blankets
covered with metalized Mylar. The agency proposed the rules last
August to minimize the risk of fire spreading aboard these types
Today's Airworthiness Directives require operators to determine
whether their planes have metalized Mylar-covered insulation
materials and where, then replace them with new insulation
blankets within five years. Replacement materials must
meet the FAA's new flame propagation standard, which is based
on an American Society for Testing and Materials flammability
"The risk of fire aboard these aircraft is very low, but this is a
prudent action to take to raise the bar on safety," said FAA
Administrator Jane F. Garvey.
The FAA is going beyond the current acceptable level of safety
and is proposing an even higher standard for testing insulation on
all new aircraft. The new test standard was developed by the FAA
with input from world-renowned fire experts.
The agency plans to issue a proposal for all new aircraft soon.
While other insulation materials in the current U.S. fleet are safe,
tests show that metalized Mylar falls far below the new test
The FAA continues to work closely with the international aviation
community through the International Aircraft Materials Fire Test
Working Group on the new test standard for aircraft insulation. In
addition, the FAA and Boeing are studying procedures for flight
crews to follow in the rare event of smoke in the airplane to
make sure the procedures are correct and properly prioritized.
The FAA Flight Standards Service also plans to issue advisory
information to operators to conduct special emphasis inspections
of thermal acoustical insulation during general maintenance and
inspections. This information bulletin will provide details on how to
recognize contaminated insulation blankets that could pose an
increased hazard to the airplane. The bulletin will be issued after
formal coordination with union representatives.
Today order affects 719 U.S.-registered aircraft; the worldwide
fleet numbers approximately 1,500. U.S. operators include: Alaska
Airlines, American Airlines, Boeing, Continental Airlines, Delta Air
Lines, Federal Express, Frontier Airlines, Midwest Express,
Northwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Trans World Airlines, US
Airways and World Airways.
The estimated cost to U.S. operators to replace insulation in all
these models of aircraft is approximately $368.4 million.