- 2000 OCT 19 -


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00-10-19          0700    Morning routine.  Heavy rains, and tail end of the hurricane coming through today.


John also gave me his copy of the Long Beach Air Flow Test Flight report to peruse.  Basically, it is a copy of all the notes of everyone involved, and readouts of the data from the various pieces of equipment.  John had a comment about it containing nothing of value (that is why I was given a copy).


            Had a chance to speak with John GARSTANG about the FAA fire tests of the insulation and end caps.  I asked him about prior company knowledge of the failure of the materials in the test.  I suggested that Boeing, being as big a company as it is with the amount of research that they do into new technology, and the investment that they have in aircraft and their performance, then it would be hard to believe that they themselves had not tested these materials long ago and found them to be flammable.  John indicated that they did do the research and would have found just that.  He then went quiet, realizing that I was leading into a criminal scenario, and he then joked that they do not do criminal investigations and he cannot continue.  But he agreed that there were billions of dollars at stake, and there was a great amount of politics involved.  It could be argued that the FAA tests were faulty.  I suggested to him that if they tested a stick of wood by holding a flame under one end for fifteen seconds, it likely would not catch fire.  Does this then mean that the wood passes their tests and is considered a non-fuel?  John thought that this was a very good analogy of their tests. 

            John also advised that Airbus is gloating right now about their system, but it seems that they actually have similar problems.  They use a foam material similar to a foam seat cushion, without any covering like the Metallized Mylar.  He feels that it is also highly flammable and is trying to get a sample so he can perform some local burn tests on videotape.  Keep in mind that in this country, Air Canada flies both Airbus and Boeing products.

            It would seem that this is a can of worms that has opened, and there certainly is a need for someone to look into it.  It may not be us, but instead would have to be US authorities (FBI).  However, one knows full well that any civil suites will home in on this area, and whether or not someone knew before hand that there was a problem.  I am not yet convinced that there was a non-criminal cause for the fire.  But it certainly is reasonable to assume that the flammability of the products above the ceiling contributed greatly to the spread of the fire and the ultimate destruction of the aircraft and the deaths of 229 people.  However, the major consideration is what will happen if another incident occurs.  The aircraft industry and the government authorities now know of the problem.  Should the public not be adequately informed of the safety hazards so that anyone planning a flight can have the option of staying on the ground?  As soon as possible, I will submit a memo to Insp. LATHEM outlining this data and my concerns.  I suspect that he will want to confer with Vic GERDEN on the matter, and of course Vic GERDEN will take the non-criminal side of the street.  In actual fact, one might even consider the TSB to be biased against any criminal activity, as the FAA, a cousin organization (the NTSB being the brother organization), are also tainted by these failures for running a faulty test structure.  One must also wonder if someone in the FAA gained by running a faulty test.  There was a lot of money at stake, and a few bucks thrown the right way might buy a test result favourable to the company concerned.  I of course have no proof of this, but one must raise the question under these circumstances.  However, at this time all I can do is pass it on up the line and hope for action at that level.

            John GARSTANG also advised that he had received a phone call from Jim FOOT complaining about what is proposed for writing his report on the wiring and systems.  Management wants to utilize Othmar HUMMEL for the purpose, not just to write up factual data as Larry FOGG has done for John, but to write up opinion parts also.  They both strongly disagree with this avenue, as one should not let interested parties have control of reports such as this.  At least John makes sure that everything FOGG writes is factual, or if it deals with the burn pattern interpretation, he has to review it and agree with it totally.  Itís ok to have Othmar involved, but not to let him have a free hand in writing the overall report for the area of concern.



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