TWICE AS FAR

 

SWISSAIR 111

CRASH INVESTIGATION

 

 

 

- EXTRACT FROM FILE NOTES -

 

 

FOR

- 1999 JUN 21 -

 

99-06-21        0800 - 1730   To SR Technics and then to HB-IWC.  Jim FOOT and Larry FOGG present and also taking photos.  . . . .

          At 1000 hrs, I attended the meeting with TSB, Swissair, & Boeing to discuss the upcoming bench tests of the ĎAugerí test (see SITE NOTES for details). 

          At 1000 hrs, attended the meeting between TSB, Swissair, and Boeing.  John GARSTANG and Jim FOOT were present for TSB; Sandro SIRIU, Yorg? and one other for Swissair; and Larry FOGG for Boeing.  The meeting dealt with upcoming wiring burn tests and the Auger Spectroscopy test.  It is considered to be a non-destructive test, however it removes one or more angstrom units of material from the outer surface.  The theory of the test is that if the examined wire shorted and caused the fire, the wire would melt from the heat produced but then quickly solidify again once the electrical short stops.  Because this would happen with little if any fire produced gasses in the local atmosphere, any air trapped in the re-solidified metal would contain normal levels of atmospheric molecules.  But any wire that shorts as a result of the fire, the material trapped would contain fire products at levels consistent with the atmosphere during the fire.  There should be a difference and the ĎAUGERí test should be able to determine the difference.  However, this test, although old, has never been used in this manner before.  The object of the upcoming tests is to produce benchmarks by which actual wires from HB-IWF can be compared.  To do this, Swissair will supply agreed upon wire bundle types, and Boeing will cause them to short under various conditions.  Wires will be arced in normal atmosphere, high nitrogen atmosphere, and in concentrations of fire residue atmosphere.  Swissair will search for wires of a suitable age and type consistent with the age of HB-IWF.  There were some discussions as to the types and numbers of wires, etc.  They will include AC & DC, Kapton and Tefzel coatings, IFEN, Boeing, and galley type wires.  Then there was discussion as to where the wires would be sent.  Both TSB and Boeing wanted them sent direct to Boeing in Seattle.  However, Swissair won out by having them forwarded to the TSB in Halifax.  TSB will then send them on to Boeing.  Alex TAYLOR is the Boeing person setting up the tests in Seattle.  Swissair and TSB will be present, and of course Boeing.  The wire burns, once completed in August, will be taken directly to Dr. Jim BROWN, a metallurgist with the NRC and CANMET.  He has been hired to conduct the test, which is being described as a blind test.  Again, Swissair and Boeing (Larry FOGG) will be present along with TSB (Jim FOOT). 

          During the meeting, I kept a very low profile and did not comment on any of the discussions.  However, several problems can be seen in this endeavour.  The actual collection of wires seems to be rather unorganised.  While types were discussed, there seems to be no specific list.  It appears rather haphazard, but with several firm diary dates.  The harnesses are to be defined by the end of June (9 days away), built by Swissair by the end of July, and to be in Seattle before the week of August 7th.  They will then be taken immediately to Ottawa.  Swissair was told to try and locate wires of the appropriate age.  They thought that they could find some at their storage depot but that they could not be sure of the age or origin.  These wires are not left lying around the hangar for some upcoming Auger test.  In addition to wires, ceiling panel material and FR primed metal will be added to the burn.

          It is interesting to note that the IFEN wires of three strands have a white wire that is of two different manufacturers - one in one area, the other somewhere else in the system.  The other two wires are different colours, red and blue.  Breakers will be removed from an existing aircraft system and will be used in the set-up.  They of course are no longer in use on the Swissair aircraft.  While most of the burning will be open wires, some tests will include burning in conduit. 

          There was no plan mentioned about the marking of the wires.  At no time was it indicated that they would become actual exhibits, which of course they must become.  Each wire will be approximately four feet long, so there should be ample opportunity to mark one end of each with an exhibit tag and have it survive the testing.  As such an exhibit, each should be photographed to allow for its documentation. 

          Next, testing will be conducted by Boeing, who will set up the equipment virtually from scratch in their lab facilities in Seattle.  There was some discussion as to the actual method of hooking up the wires; however, it seems to be a case of trial and error.  It would seem that since this is the first time doing this test, perhaps some experimentation is in order to determine the actual set-up with other than the aircraft wires, which by their nature are of a limited source (by type and age).  It might also be questioned as to why Boeing is conducting the tests.  Time may show that Boeing has a lot to gain or lose in the outcome.  Surely someone will later question why the test was not conducted by an independent entity other than Swissair or Boeing.  And the question remains as to who will seize and maintain the exhibits?

          Then comes the agreement that everyone can go to Ottawa for the actual analysis and evaluation of the results.  There was no discussion given to recording photographically the results before they are tested in this manner.  But it was agreed that this would be a blind test.  This may be in question if any Swissair or Boeing reps are present with knowledge of the actual burn tests.  Surely any input from them in any way can be argued to be an influence on the examiner. 

          Considering the seriousness of these tests and their potential significance in any upcoming legal action, perhaps more consideration should be given to the long-term view of the outcome.  This test, until now unknown in fire investigation circles, appears to have a major role to play in serious arson investigations.  This file may make the test known on a wide scale.

          The meeting was over by 1245 hrs.

          After lunch, returned to IWN and photos taken on it.

(Clarification:)      One must remember that this was still very early in the investigation, relatively speaking.  I was not yet privy to all the intrigue that went on behind the doors of the TSB's side of the hangar, or of their manipulation of correct procedures.  Neither did I have any idea of what Lathem would later do to thwart any criminal investigation.  As yet, there was little if anything to indicate a criminal source for the fire other than excessive burn damage and the opinions of several of the floor investigators that they had never seen such fire damage. 

Of note, this was the morning when Jim Foot had jumped ahead of me to take photos of the smoke curtain, and then adjusted it before I could take my photos.  Twice, I warned John about it, then we broke for this meeting.  To say that there were tensions between Foot and me would have been accurate.

As well, during this meeting, I asked Sidla about Dr. Brown, and his comment was that Dr. Brown was the best, and that we were lucky to be able to get him for this project.





 

 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

 

 

------------ TIME LINE ------------