- 2000 OCT 15 -


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00-10-15          0700    Weekend morning routine.  Worked on notes from last week.  Had a chance to speak with John GARSTANG and asked him if he knew of the Swissair fire mentioned by Peter ERNST.  He had no knowledge of it at all but said that he would look into it.  However, he leaves tomorrow for Air India file in Vancouver in two days.  I will ask him again on his return to remind him.

            Scott CAMPBELL has taken several ceiling-tile exhibits back to California with him for burn tests.  John is not satisfied with the 1700 deg/5 minutes determination and has asked that he do further tests.  However, the material is designed to withstand temperatures such as this and has been tested previously and passed by the FAA.  But then, they passed the Metallized Mylar.  John has performed a rudimentary test here in the hangar (some time ago) with the ceiling tiles, burning them with a blowtorch.  They did not burn through.  This, however, was not videotaped.  We also dropped the aluminium drops on the tiles in the TSB lab in Ottawa.  This was taped.  John would like test results back from them regarding the amount of heat/time it would require to have results identical to this.  It is also evident that the material, Exh #1-6865, is not evenly burnt, with areas that have received less heat/time and have therefore burnt less.  John has removed a piece of the material for further testing, unknown what at this time.  However, he photographed the piece before doing so, and it was only a small section.  But it now must be photographed completely, and then has to be further tested.  I have been unable to sit down with John to discuss this as he has had so much going on. 

            This exhibit is terribly important, likely the most important exhibit we have regarding the potential of an incendiary device.  We have to know how and why this piece of ceiling tile burnt to this extent, and if there is any residue remaining in the surface material.  Is there magnesium in high concentrations (there should be some levels consistent with those found in sea water)?  However, because this location is consistent with the scenario of someone opening the drop-ceiling hatch between the Lav and G3 Galley, and then tossing a device into the overhead area, this has to be looked into.  Any such device would easily land in this area, create a fire that would spread to the overhead Mylar, and travel to other areas.


(Clarification:)  It was obvious that the TSB could not allow the initial burn readings for the tile material to stand, as it would imply something besides normal aircraft materials were on fire above the ceiling tile.  They had to seek a longer period, even though tests at the FAA showed that the material would burn in one location for only a very short time as the flame front moved on.  The insulation blanket was not like a forest fire or house fire where there is an abundance of material to burn and smolder as the flame front moves away.



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