Replacing insulation blankets is 'no longer necessary'

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Wed July 12 2006, 04:51 PM
Replacing insulation blankets is 'no longer necessary'
By David Learmount in London

Boeing and Houston-based Flame Seal have developed a spray-on coating that can restore the fire-resistance of insulation blankets on in-service aircraft, according to the two companies.

Boeing says it "recommends this treatment as an alternative means of compliance [AMOC], pending Federal Aviation Administration approval", and adds that it is far cheaper than replacing old insulation materials during major maintenance.

Boeing says that the fire-retardant properties of insulation blankets "degrade over time due to ageing and/or contamination", and that Flame Seal's coating restores fire-resistance levels "for the [remaining] life of the aeroplane". The present FAA requirement is that certain old blankets are replaced.

The blanket type concerned is AN-26, manufactured by Orcon, "a non-metalised polyethylene terephthalate [PET] insulation blanket cover film installed on the 727 to 767 model ranges between 1981 and 1988".

When the original version of the FX-100 coating was developed in 2005, says Flame Seal, the interior of the aircraft had to be heated for two hours to cure it. Now, however, the jointly developed modified product cures at room temperature. The coating works by being "intumescent" when heated, expanding to 100 times the coating thickness.'no+longer+necessary'.html
Wed July 12 2006, 05:26 PM
If I were the head of the FAA I'd wanna see damn good testing on this before I allowed it to progress, but of course I care about people over money so.....

But if it did pass the tests, including wear and tear tests to determine how well it would hold up over a long period of time, I could see myself signing off on it. But for me it would have to be done in concert with advancing the fire systems on planes, super sensitive smoke detectors, fire suppression systems, etc.

Of course ideally what I'd like to see is material that is entirely nonflammable surrounding wires, wires made out of better material, along with the fire detection and suppression.

Also as you Barbara and others have demonstrated smoke is taken far too lightly in the cockpits of airliners. On Navy ships fire is one of the most trained for occurances because they recognize how dangerous a fire in an enclosed and vulnerable setting is, airliners seem to have missed the boat on this. (Sorry, I didn't realize the stupid pun on that until after I wrote it)

Because of my rather large fear of airline travel I pay special attention when disasters occur. Another accident I've watched over the years that had a very similar feel to Flight 111 was Valujet 592. In their case it was improperly labeled and stored oxygen canisters that brought down the plane, and an advanced fire detection and suppression system may have saved those people as well. But horrible management and greed on the part of the FAA and Valujet, and Sabretech (the company that handled the canisters) doomed 110 human beings. I imagine as a saftey advocate you know all this, but since people don't seem to be getting the message it bears repeating.

"Those Who Don't Learn From The Past Are Doomed To Repeat It."
Wed July 12 2006, 06:57 PM
I imagine as a saftey advocate you know all this, but since people don't seem to be getting the message it bears repeating.

Murray, you are so right about this. It can't be said enough. People need to be reminded. Thanks for a great post.

Mon July 17 2006, 04:48 AM
My only question about this spray coating is: what was used in the WTC to help prevent fires too?

Not the same stuff, but that should make folks think about rushing to agree this is the solution to the problem.

Airline disasters are often only corrected via the blood of the lost, and unfortunately that mindset assures that more blood will be shed. Frown
Mon July 17 2006, 03:15 PM
Just to give you a "half answer" on the WTC thing, the main reason the spray/foam failed in the World Trade Center wasn't the heat per se, but the fact that the explosive concussion blew it off of the gurders leaving them bare. Now the vast majority of systems wouldn't have been able to survive under the insense heat the burning jet fuel created, but just so you know the cause of the foam failure.

I would imagine that if there were an incident where there would be be sufficient force to blow the foam/spray off of the insulation blankets the rest of the plane wouldn't survive anyway.

"Those Who Don't Learn From The Past Are Doomed To Repeat It."
Tue July 18 2006, 01:07 AM
[Bah, forgot to add the email addy to get the login info]

What I was more thinking of the problem with foam/sprays is it's not any more abrasion, flexing, jarring, temperature extreme resistent as the blankets. At least the blankets can be considered active shields, and a barrier from the damage that can come from maintaining the wiring.

[It could possibly harbor fire hazards, like what occured to my home that burned it down to the ground -- an arcing wire and blown insulation=slow burning fire -- but I would think aviation wiring insulation would meet higher fire codes].

Why isn't the wiring put in like velcroed and non velcroed PET harnesses? That helps them from getting damaged, and much easier to run them through tight (and sharp metal) areas. Just use cold shrink for the ends to not worry about thermal damage of the wire casings, either.
Tue July 18 2006, 10:07 AM
Wow your house burned too? Small world! Ours burned March 14th, the furnace in our shop caught on fire and it burned to the ground, we were lucky the firefighters did an amazing job on our house it was too damaged to rebuild but they managed to most of our stuff.

Anyway, yeah I'm with you on the point you were making I mean when will people in the industry learn that fire isn't something to mess with? That's one of the reasons I won't fly commercial anymore, I'm too disturbed about how little the FAA seems to care about the lives of the people. You always hear about how low the odds are for being in a plane crash, but those odds are only low because of the sheer number of planes that take off and land, not because of the saftey policies.

"Those Who Don't Learn From The Past Are Doomed To Repeat It."
Tue July 18 2006, 11:39 AM
We were left with a couple waterlogged photo albums. Everything else was too damaged to salvage [I can still remember that smell, and anything that triggers something similiar I'm on high alert]. The roof (where the fire started) was 3/4 gone. Neighbors said the flames were almost tree top level -- that's about 20ft in the air -- after hitting the gas line). After that, we get a licensed electrician to overlook all wiring, sockets and install anything electrical, yearly. Takes just one "reminder" like that to respect electricity and electronics with our lives.

After reviewing enough pathology reports and photos of victims of airline disasters going back to the 50s [from resources like the Armed Forces Pathology Institute], I wouldn't fly anymore, either. Not so much due to the fear of flying, but the results, and the possibility of having no closure for loved ones [I'll spare the details here].

Safety should be priority #1. No ands, ifs or buts. The aftermath of these tragedies can't be described in photos, tech reports and body counts, nor papered over as a "1 in a 1,000,000" chance. Real people die, and real survivors grieve. They're not some number in some file to be shut and filed.
Tue July 18 2006, 11:58 AM
I'm exactly the same way, all it takes is a whiff of something burning and I'm back to the fire in my mind.

For me it's effected me psycologically as well, the smells. I still think back to 9:55am, March 14th 2006. Because that was the last normal memory I have in my life. I looked at the clock on my DVR and then fell asleep. Ever since that moment my life has been irrevocably changed.

The next thing I remember is my brother kicking my door open and screaming "Murray, the Shop's on Fire, I'm not kidding!" Which later we all thought was funny because why would he kid about something like that? Anyway, I go "ok" and spring out of bed, I grab my cat at some point, I don't even remember doing it I just remember he was in my arms when I got up stairs. I got my clothes on but forgot my shoes, it was raining that day and cold so one of the things I remember was how cold and wet my feet were. I got to our front door, looked at our business which has been there longer than I've been alive. (It was an autobody shop) and it was just a huge fireball. Everyone was ok though, also we were lucky. The guy who worked for my dad had just not 10 minutes earlier moved the welding gear, complete with a tank full of setalene down to our other shed. He normally kept it right next to the furnace. If that hadve exploded my pop would have been killed for sure, my brother probably and maybe depending on the timing the guy that worked for my pop who is family by marriage but I consider him by blood, and I was in the basement so I may have survived but then again I might have had the whole house collapse on me. I'll never forget that day as long as I live.

"Those Who Don't Learn From The Past Are Doomed To Repeat It."
Tue July 18 2006, 12:37 PM
Man o man that front yard looked like ours. We had 3ft of debris scattered from what the firefighters pulled down and out. We lost our kitties too. Frown Found only 2 to bury. Frown Too difficult to dig through all the burnt insulation and muddy charcoal slurry (it was like concrete) to find the kitten.

Too this day we can still find debris in our yard -- crap, last month I found an old 7.62mm LIVE bullet in the garden!!

Folks, don't play with fire. Once you're exposed to it, like the above, you'll never be the same again. True, it's just a home and not life, but the experience stays with you forever -- especially the smells. A BBQ down the street can get me up running outside to investigate it. Frown
Tue July 18 2006, 01:42 PM
Yup, much like you I'm paranoid about fire now, I won't leave anything in the toaster without me being there to watch it. Like you say it always affects you.

"Those Who Don't Learn From The Past Are Doomed To Repeat It."