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AIRCRAFTELECTRICALWIRETYPES

associatedwith

AIRCRAFTELECTRICALFIRES

Anaviationsafetyarticle
by

AlexPATERSON
http://www.vision.net.au/~apaterson/aviation/wire_types.htm
LastUpdated:22July2012

MASTERINDEXofarticleswritten,postedonline,orrecommendedbyAlex
Paterson

INTRODUCTION
This article provides a list of electrical wire types most commonly used in jet transport
aircraft. The articles lists both the positive and negative characteristics of each wire type and
the aircraft that these wires have been installed in. It needs to be understood that the article is
by necessity incomplete because aircraft manufacturers and airlines have historically given
scant regard to the potential dangers posed by different wire types when installing them in
their aircraft and therefore have not kept accurate records of what types of wire have been
installed in the same. Thecomplacencywithintheaviationindustrytowardsthedangers
posedbyelectricalwireisendemicandisbestsummedupbythecommentofUnitedStates
FederalAviationAuthority(FAA)deputyhead,TomMcSweeny,whoisreportedtohave
saidbeforeaCongressionalCommitteein19that"wireiswire".(moreonMrMcSweeny's
allegedcommentbelow)
NOTE:Thisisadraftwebpageonly,setupfordiscussionbetweencontributors.It
undoubtedlycontainsomissions,andpossiblysomemistakes.

Readersareinvitedtoagreewith,disagreewith,seekclarificationaboutorputtheirpointof
viewaboutanyoftheissuesdiscussedinthearticle.
AlexPaterson(May2007)

AIRCRAFTWIRETABLE
Thefollowingtablerelatestogeneralpurposeaircraftelectricalwire.Itisimportantto
understandthatalltransportjetandturbopropaircrafthaveamixtureofthefollowing
differentwiretypesinstalledinthem.Thewiretypeslistedinthetablerelatetothe
predominanttypeofwireusedineachaircraft.Itwouldappearthatevenaircraft
manufacturersthemselvesarenotcompletelysureastowhatwireisinstalledinindividual
aircraftastheirattitudetowardselectricalwireinthepasthasbeenthat"wireiswire".
TableColourcode:

DANGEROUSWIRE

SAFETYUNKNOWN

PROBABLY SAFE

SAFE WIRE

NOTE:Wireislistedinthetablebydateofintroductionintoaircraft,withtheoldestwire
typedlistedatthetop.

WIRETYPE

DESCRIPTION

AIRCRAFT
INSTALLEDIN
(some)

PVC/Nylon
(PolyvinylChloride)

FailsFar25

Weight6.8lbs.per1,000ft
(Heaviestandthickest)

Installedin

EarlyDC9supuntil
1979

Introduced1950s

SpecificationNo:5086

Ratedtemperaturelow:
105C
Flammableburnsreadily
creatingcopiousamountsof
thick,toxicsmoke
renderingitvirtually
impossibleforpilotstosee
theirflightinstrumentsor
breathe.(e.g.Valujet592)

Insulationwhenburning
turnstohydrochloricacid
whenexposedtowater.

Outgassesontoelectrical&
electroniccontacts

SoftSusceptibletochafing

Susceptibletoaginginthat
itdriesoutandbecomes
brittle.

BannedbyUSAirForce.

USAirForcehad800
autopilotanomaliesdueto
defectivePVCina6month
studyin?

Stillusedasgeneral
purposereplacementwire.

ImplicatedinValujetFlight
592DC9whichcrashed
intotheFloridaEverglades
on11May1996

(e.g.Valujet592)

EarlyB727supuntil
1976

EarlyB737supuntil
1976

Stillusedasgeneral
purpose
replacementwirebysections
oftheaviationindustry.

DangerousWire
Kynar
Introducedin1964

FailsFar25

Thickness:15microns

Installedin

DC9sfrom1970until

Specificationnumber:

81044/9

Kapton
(complexaromatic
polyamide)
ManufacturedbyDupont
ChemicalCo.
Introduced1966
SpecificationNumbers:

Weight5.5lbsper1,000ft.

RatedTemperature:150C
(failstemperaturespec)

Poorfluidresistance

Nolongerused
FailsFar25

Thickness:8.4microns
(Verythin)

1976

Installedin

AirbusA310(all)

Weight:4.6lbsper1,000ft
(Verylightweight)

AirbusA320
(currently)2

Ratedtemperature:200C

AirbusA330
(currently)

'Explodes'andburns

AirbusA340
(currently)

B727(after1979,EB)

B737(after1979to
1990)

B747400(somefrom
19891991)

B757(upuntil1990)

B767(upuntil1991)

BAe146
(unconfirmedreports)

DC10

MD8x(all)

MD11(upuntilearly
1992)

fiercelyatflashoverduring
anarctrackingeventdueto
theproductionoffree
hydrogen,severely
damagingadjacentwires
andignitingsurrounding
structure.(i.e.behaveslike
detonatorfuse.)1

81381/11
BMS 13-51
(Boeing)

Highignitiontemperature
tostartburning(usually
associatedwithanelectrical
shortcircuitof5000C),but
whenitdoesfinallyigniteit
burnsveryfiercely
(explodes)creatingvirtually
nosmoke.
Fumesareclearandfairly
benign.
Susceptibletowetanddry
ArcTracking.
Susceptibletoaginginthat

itdriesoutforminghairline
crackswhichcanleadto
microcurrentleakage(i.e.
electrical'ticking'faults)
whichinturncaneventually
culminateinanexplosive
arctrackingevent.(i.e.
shortcircuit)1

Stiffness(straightline
memory)makesitproneto
vibrationchafing,(rubbing)
andstressedbybending.

Abrasivetootherwires.
(duetoitshardness)

Hygroscopic(i.e.absorbs
water)renderingit
susceptibletowetarc
tracking.

Installationdifficulties
(difficulttostripandmark)
Bannedby
*USAirForce
*USNavy
*Canadianmilitary
*Boeingin1992
*Bombardier?

A300600(with
Teflontopcoat)

L1011Tristar

ConcordeSST

B707(butnot
accordingtoEB)

DassaultMercure

CL600Series(but
notRJ/CL604or
GlobalExpress
(Challenger)

ShortsSD330

GulfstreamGII,GIII

HS125700

Bell212,214

SikorskyS61,S70B,
S76

Westland606

Plus31militarytypes
suchasP3,C130,F
14,F18,Hawkeye,
etc

VERYDANGEROUSWIRE

StillusedbyAIRBUS
inA319,A320,A330,A340
untilabout2005
(seefootnote2below)

Teflon
(Polytetrafluoroethylene
PTFE)

FailsFar25

Thickness:10microns

Weight5.43lbs/1,000ft.

Installedin

B747

Introducedin1969

Ratedtemperature:200C

SpecificationNumbers:

Longitudinalsplitting
problemdueto
manufacturingprocess.

Susceptibletocoldflow
(creepingofconductor).

Typeofinsulationfoundas
ignitionsourceonApollo
13

Typeofinsulationfound
splitinTWA800fueltank
wires[FuelQuantity
IndicatingSystem](FQIS)

Bannedbymajor
manufacturersin1983

22759/11

PolyX

FailsFar25

Manufacturedby
Raychem

81044/1629

Installedin

Thefirstexoticblendof
insulation(duetooil
embargo)

Early747s(e.g.TWA
800)

Thickness:10microns

EarlyDC10s

Weight:4.7lbs.per1,000ft
(Lightweight)

Ratedtemperature:150C

Susceptibletosolvents

Susceptibletoradial
cracking.Projectedservice
life60,000hrs/but
circumferentialcracks
foundafterjust2000hrsby
USNavy.

Susceptibletopremature
aging.BannedbyUSNavy

Introducedin1970
SpecificationNumbers:

BAe146

(alkaneimide)
anAliphaticpolyimide

in1978duetopremature
agingofinsulationafter
4000hrs

Brittle.Duetobrittleness,
1"barespotsnot
uncommon.

Susceptibletochafing.

FailsFAR25(airworthiness
testingstandards)

Caused323USNF14sto
berewired

BannedbyUSNavy.

ImplicatedbyEdward
Block(andothers)inthe
downingofTWAFlt800in
1996.4

Nolongerusedincivilian
aircraft.

DangerousWire
FailsFar25

Stilan
Introduced1972
SpecificationNumbers:

81044/20

Thickness:10microns

Weight4.7lbs.per1,000ft
(Lightweight)

RatedTemperature:150C

Insulationbreaksdownin
hydraulicanddeicingfluid

Microscopiccrazing
problemseenunder
microscope

Installedin

B747sbuiltinmid
tolate1970s

DC10sbuiltinmid
tolate1970s

Cracksunderstress

Foundtoarcover

Susceptibletospurious
signalgeneration(EMI
hazard)

Absorbswater(i.e.
hygroscopic)

Nolongerused
FailsFar25

Tefzel
(ETFE)
Introduced1972

Ratedtemperature150C

Softatratedtemperature

Specificationnumbers

F5

CrossLinkedTefzel
(XLETFE)
ManufacturedbyJudd
WireandRaychem.
Knownbysomesections
oftheaviationindustry
as"Spec55"wire.
Apparentlythename
"Spec55"hasbeen
trademarkedby
Raychem.
Introduced1977

Installedin
Arcturus

TefzelwasfoundinSwiss
Usedasgeneralinstallation AirflightSR111'sInflight
EntertainmentSystem(IFEN)
wirebutshouldneverbe
mixedinbundlewithother whichwassuspectedasbeing
thecauseoftheinflightfire
wiretypesduetoits
andsubsequentcrashofthe
softness.
aircraftoffNovaScotiain
November1998.
FailsFar25

Thickness:10microns

Installedin

B737(currently)

Weight:5.0lbs/1000'(light
weight)

B747(currently)

Ratedtemperature:150C

B757(currently)

Wetarctracks

B767(currently)

Flammableproducing
copiousamountofDense
toxicsmoke(96%+
density)whenitburns
renderingitvirtually
impossibleforflightcrewto
seetheirflightinstruments.

B777(currently)

BAe146

AirbusA320

Specificationnumbers

MILW22759/34

Spec55

Spec55A

BMS1348
(Boeing)

NASAstateswillfail
flammabilityrequirements
in30%oxygen.

Toxicitytheworstofall
wires,bannedformanned
aerospaceusebymajor
manufacturer.(Grumman
Corporationbanneditin
1982andNASAfollowed
suitin1983duetoits
toxicity)

Softatratedtemperature

Losesmechanicalstrength
propertiesatrated
temperature

FailsFAR25(airworthiness
standardstest)

Projectedlife50,000hrs

Notchpropagation
problems

AirbusA330

AirbusA340

StillusedbyBOEINGin
B737,B747,B757,B767,
B777
andAirbus

DangerousWire
TKTBoeing

PassesFAR25

Installedin

Weight:5.0lbs.per1,000ft
(Lightweight)

B737sbuiltafter1992

Introduced1992

Arctrackresistant

B757sbuiltafter1992

BoeingSpecificationNo:

Abrasionresistant

Reportedbysome
LAMEstobepartly
installedin some
B747-400 aircraft
manufactured
between 1989 - 1999.

(Teflon/Kapton/Teflon)

MILW22759

Superbinsulationprotection

BMS1360
(Boeing)

Highheattolerance

Resistssmokingwhen
burning(lessthan2%
density)

Tufflitebrand
manufacturedby
Tensolite

NOTE:AirbusIndustries
nowusetheirownversionof

http://www.tensolite.com

TKT(Seebelow)
Displaysallthepositive
aspectsofKapton(i.e.
lightweight,resistanceto
burning,nofumeswhen
burningetc)withoutanyof
Kapton'snegatives.

Noknownproblems

SAFEWIRE
FAR 25 attributes unknown

KKF BAe
Two layers of Kapton
within a FEP laquer
topcoat.
Installed within the
pressure cabin of BAe
146 aircraft.

Installed in
Undoubtedly safer than Kapton if
only because it reduces Kaptons
propensity to dry out and form
cracks.
ResistancetoArcTracking
unknown.

BAe 146

Source:BAeStatement7July
1999

Note: Source of info:


BAe Statement dated 7
July 1999

KT BAe
Single layer of Kapton
overlaid by single wrap
of PTFE (i.e. Teflon)
Installed outside the
pressure cabin of BAe
146 aircraft.
Note:Source of info:
BAe Statement dated 7
July 1999

FAR 25 attributes unknown

Installed in

Undoubtedly safer than Kapton if


BAe 146
only because it reduces Kapton's
propensity to dry out and form
Source:BAeStatement7July
cracks.However,similartoAirbus' 1999
KTT(seebelow)whichaccording
totheAmerica'sforemost
independentaircraftwireexpert,
EdwardBlock,"thistypeofwireis
justKaptonwithacosmeticcoating
ofTeflonwhichisusedfor
markingpurposesonlyanddoes
littletoreduceKapton'spropensity
toexplosivelyarctrack".
Safety Unknown
FAR 25 attributes unknown

KTT Airbus

Used by Airbus to replace

Kapton with two very


thin outer layers of
Teflon.

Undoubtedly safer than Kapton, but


Airbus refuses to disclose
performance attributes or
specifications of this wire to
independent researchers.

Kapton as a general purpose


wire.

Installed in Airbus FBW


aircraft up until mid 2006
when it was replaced by
Called by Airbus
According to specifications
Airbus' TKT specification
Polimide/PTFE/PTFE
available, this wire is made up of EN2267-008 listed below.
25m Kapton, sandwiched between See footnote 3 below.
Airbus Specification No: two layers of 2.5m FEP.

Safety Unknown

ASNE0261CF

Probably meets FAR 25

TKT Airbus
Called by Airbus
PTFE/Polimide/PTFE
Note:
PTFE/Polimide/PTFE is
just another name for
TKT as
Teflon is a PTFE and
Kapton is a Polimide
Airbus Specification No:

EN2267-008

Reportedly now installed in


Airbus refuses to fully disclose the Airbus Aircraft as from mid
performance attributes or
2006 as a general purpose
specifications of this wire to
wire.
independent researchers.

No known specifications
released by Airbus although
suspected to be very similar
to Boeing's TKT wire listed
above.

Allegedly has a much


thicker outer layer of PTFE
(i.e. Teflon) than the KTT
wire used earlier by Airbus.
(see below)

Probably Safe
Sources:

EdwardBlock(IASA)EdwardB.Blockisaninternationalexpertonaviationand
wiring,specialisinginaircraftcrashinvestigations.

CaptainJohnSampson(IASA)Isapracticingairlinepilotwithextensiveexperience
incivilairlineoperations,helicopterpilotingandmilitaryaviation.Waseditorof
AviationSafetyWeekforaperiodoftimeinthemid2000s.

MichaelMurphy.AviationsafetyauditorfromCanada.

PatrickPrice(deceased)ExemployeeofBoeingCorporationtaskedwith
investigatingaircraftelectricalwiringissues.

NOTES
FAR25 comprisesclausesmandatingaircraftdesignsafetyrules.However,thereareno
specificclauseswithinFAR25pertainingtotheflammability,toxicityorsmokevisibility
criteriaofelectricalwireinsulation.Thatsaid,FARSection601mandatesageneral
statementthat;

FAR25601:"Theairplanemaynothavedesignfeaturesordetailsthatexperience
hasshowntobehazardousorunreliable.Thesuitabilityofeachquestionable
designdetailandpartmustbeestablishedbytests."
Source: http://www.flightsimaviation.com/data/FARS/part_25-601.html
As argued in this document the suitability of aircraft electrical wire insulation materials are
"questionable", yet they have never been the subject of a comprehensive formal testing
program and as such are in breach of FAR 25-601.
OnlyBoeing'sTKTwirehasnoknownproblemsandmeetsFAR25requirements.Airbus'
versionofTKTprobablymeetsFAR25requirements.
NospecificstandardsspeltoutbyaircraftregulatoryauthoritiessuchasUSFAAor
EuropeanJARregardingaircraftelectricalwire.Specificallynostandardsdefinedorany
requirementtotestwirefor:

Propensityofwiretowetordryarctrack.

Propensityofwiretoburn.

thedensityofsmokeandtoxicityoffumeswhenwireburns.

Modernjettransportaircraftarerequiredbylaw(FAA25&JAR25)toensureallsafety
offlightitemsandaircraftsystemshaveadequatebackupsystemsinstalledintheeventofa
failureofthemainsystem,(andthatincludesaircraftelectricalsystems),yetnothoughtwas
giventothefailureoftheaircraftwiringsystemitself.
Wireisdeemedbymostintheaviationindustry(i.e.aircraftmanufacturers,pilots,airline
managementandregulatoryauthorities)asan"installandforget"item.Thisattitudeisbest
summedupbythecommentofUnitedStatesFederalAviationAuthority(FAA)deputyhead,
TomMcSweeny,whoisreportedtohavesaidbeforeaCongressionalCommitteethat"Wire
iswire".Thisattitudeignoresthefactthat:

Modernjettransportaircraftcontainliterallyhundredsofkilometersofwire.

Wireisoftendamagedduringmanufactureand/orinstallation.

Wireisoftenincorrectlyinstalledinaircraft.(i.e.incorrectlyroutednearhot
equipmentand/orbundledtogetherwithotherincompatiblewiretypessuchassoft
wirelayingadjacenthardwireetc)

Wire(boththewireanditsinsulation)deteriorateswithage.Withregardtothe
insulation,itdriesout,becomesbrittleformingcracksexposingtheconductor(i.e.
wire).Wireitself,oxidisesespeciallyassociatedwiththewidespreadelectrolysisthat
occursinaircraftleadingtopoorcontactsandthegenerationoflocalhotspotsinthe
wirewhichhasthepotentialtomeltthesurroundinginsulationmaterial.

Allwiredeterioratesinserviceduetoenvironmentalfactorssuchas:
o extremesofheat&coldexperiencedbyaircraftonthegroundandintheair.
(i.e.wirecanexperienceplus+200Cdowntominus70C),
o waterdamage,(hydrolysisandthefactthatsomewiretypesexhibit
hygroscopictendencies)
o saltdamageassociatedwithmarineenvironments.(allaircraftoperateinto
airfieldsadjacentmarineenvironmentsatleastsometimeintheiroperational
lives)
o contaminationbyaircraftfluidssuchasfuel,oil,hydraulicfluid,deicingfluid,
cleaningchemicals,toiletresidue,galleyspillageetc.
o inflightvibrationcausingchafingofwiresrubbingagainstotherwiresorthe
structureoftheaircraft.Thisisespeciallyaproblemwithhardwiresuchas
KaptonlayingadjacentasoftwirelikeTefzel.
o Allwireproductsdisplaydifferingpropertieswithregardtoaging,but
practicallyallwireinsulationmaterialdriesout,goeshardandthendevelops
hairlinefractureswhichallowtheingressofwaterandotheraviationfluids
leadingtomicrodischargesofcurrentthroughthecrackstosurroundingwires
ortheaircraftstructure.('ticking'faults)
o Allaircraftusetheirairframeastheirelectricalearthreturnpathwayresulting
insignificantconstraintsintheoperationofprotectiondevicessuchascircuit
breakerslocatedinthecockpit.(seeseparatepaperonthisissue)

AccordingtoEdBlock:"OnlyTKTwireinsulation(BMS1360)meetsFAR25
Standards."

RECOMMENDATIONS
Theaviationindustryasawholeneedstoacknowledgethattheshortcomingsassociatedwith
differentelectricalwiretypesareaseriousissueandpotentiallyverydangerousasevidenced
bytheinformationpresentedinthispaper.Thenotionheldbymanywithintheaviation
industrythat"wireisjustwire"isirresponsible.
Practicalstepsthattheindustryshouldtaketobegintoaddressthesituationinclude:

Aviationregulatoryauthoritiesneedtospecifyrigorousperformancestandardsfor
electricalwiresothattheyconformtoFAR25inthat"insulationmaterialisnotused
thatishazardous,unreliable,orcontributessmoke/fire".Anypromulgatedstandards
forelectricalwirewouldneedtoberigorouslyenforced.

AcknowledgethatKaptonwireisaparticularlydangeroushazardtoaircraftandinsist
uponitsitsremovalfromaircraftwherepractical.(thisstatementacknowledgesthe
factthatthecompleteremovalofKaptonwirewillbeinmanycasesanimpossibility)

Insistthatelectronic'FlybyWire'(FBW)aircraftbefittedwithacompletelyseparate
'virgin'emergencyelectricalbustoallowpilotstoremoveallelectricalcurrentfrom
all'normal'electricalwirecircuitsintheeventofanelectricalfire.Formoreonthis
subjectsee'VirginElectricalBus'

GLOSSARY

Agingisthedeteriorationofwiringinsulationwiththepassageoftime.Tocertain
extentagingisanaturalprocessassociatedwiththepropensityofmostmaterialsto
breakdownintotheirconstituentpartsovertime.(e.g.rust)Mostelectricalinsulation
compoundstendtodryoutovertime,becomebrittleandcrack.Agingofwiring
insulationisexacerbatedbyaircraftvibrationcausingchaffing(seebelow)and
exposuretoawholeraftofchemicalswithintheaircraftsuchashydraulicfluid,
engineoil,toiletchemicals,saltsprayandmoistureetc.Fluorinationandother
treatments(suchastopcoating)mayacceleratetheagingprocess.

Arctrackingistheprocessbywhichelectricalconductancecanoccurthroughand
alongtheinsulatingcoating,ratherthanjustthewireconductor.Thisismadepossible
bytheformationofcarbonalongcrackswithintheinsulationmaterialandbecause
carbonisanelectricalconductor,onceformedthecarbontracktendstogrow
associatedwiththelocalisedheatthatisgeneratedalongthetrackbytheelectricity
leakingthroughit.Theheatgeneratedbythecurrentflowleakagecausesachemical
breakdownoftheinsulatingmaterialadjacenttothecarbontrack,formingmore
carbonalongthetrack.Inotherwordsonceinitiatedtheformationofacarbontrack
becomesselfpropagatingandthereforecontinuestogrowwiththepassageoftime.In
otherwords,oncestarted,arctrackingiscapableofselfpropagationthroughthe

virtualinstantcreationofitsowncombustioninducedcarboncharleadingtoa
massiveleakageofelectricalcurrentthroughthecarbontracksoformedandthe
damageofadjacentwiresinthesamewirebundle.Thisprocessiscalled'flashover'.
(seenext)
Theinitiatorofarctrackingcanbeaflawintheinsulationcausedbyimprintlabeling,
radialcracking,chafingbetweenwiresorcontactbetweenawireconductorandthe
airframe,hygroscopicabsorptionofwater,saltandothercontaminantsoranelectrical
shortcircuit.Itcanalsobeprecipitatedbyundetectedshortingdamageininaccessible
areasorbyuseofinappropriatetypesofinsulationinSWAMPareas(severeweather
andmoistureproneareassuchaswheelwells).
NOTE:Seealso'TickingFaults'listedbelow.

Flashoveristheselfpropagationandcatastrophicescalationofanarctrackingevent
throughtheinstantcreationofamajorcarboncharpathwayassociatedwiththeheat
thatisgeneratedduringtheinitialarctrackevent(i.e.carbonisproducedwhenthe
insulationmaterialstartstoburn)Theresultingescalationofthearctrackevent
associatedwithflashovercanbeexplosive(especiallywithKaptonwire)andthe
nakedflamescancausedamagetoadjacentwirebundlesandthermalacoustic
insulationwithintheairframe.(e.g.Mylar)Verticalwirerunsaremoresusceptibleto
flashover(becausenakedflamesnaturallyrisevertically).Howeverflashovercan
alsooccurhorizontallyor,lessexplosively,inadownwardverticalsense.Unlikea
straightelectricalshort,theconductor'stemperatureitselfmaynotrisehighenoughto
tripthecircuitprotectivedevice(CPD)meaningthearcingphenomenamaynot
necessarilycauseathermalcircuitbreakertotrip.Thearctrackingphenomenonis
basedupontheabilityoftheconductivecarbonchartoheatadjacentwiringandself
propagate,particularlyalongawirebundlemoresothananindividualwire.Notethat
thephenomenainducedinthepresenceofsignificantmoistureiscalled"WetArc
Propagation"(asagainst"DryArcPropagation").Wetarcingismorelikelyto
producetheflashoverendresult.

Chafingoccurswhenwiresvibrateandrubagainsteachother(orthestructureofthe
aircraft)causingtheinsulationlayersurroundingthewiretoberubbedawayexposing
theelectrical.Thevibrationcausingthechafingisusuallythecumulativeeffectofthe
highfrequencyvibrationwhichnaturallyoccursinflightassociatedwithaerodynamic
andenginevibrations.Thetendencyforwiretochaffisexacerbatedbyinsufficient
tensioning,insufficientoffsetorthetighteningofawireagainstanairframe
component(especiallyaroundcorners).Overtensioningofwiresand/orinsufficient
supportintervalscanleadto"strumming"ofwires(causingthemtocontactother
surfaces).Scrapingcausedbypullingwirethroughnarrowareasduringinstallation
cancauseasimilareffecttochafing.

Coldflow(creepingoftheconductor)isanypermanentdeformationduetopressure
ormechanicalforce,withouttheaidofheatsoftening.

EMI:ElectromagneticInterference.Wiringthatisunshieldedissusceptibletostrong
electromagneticfieldsstemmingfromsystemsandmodulesthatarenaturalemitters

suchasGPS,DME(DistantMeasuringEquipment),radios,weatherradars,radar
altimetersetc(pluscellphonesandGameboysetc)

FBW:FlyByWire.Inconventionalaircraft,flightcontrolisactuatedbypushrods
andcablestohydraulicactuatorsdrivingtheprimarycontrolsurfaces(i.e.ailerons,
rudders,spoilers,canards,elevonsandelevators).InFBWaircraftthephysical
connectionsofcablesandpushrodsarereplacedbyproportionatecomputergenerated
digitizedsignals.

Fluidresistance:Resistancetoawiderangeofcommonlyusedsolvents,fluidsand
lubricantsusedinaircraft.

Hydrolysis:(noun)thechemicalreactionofasubstancewithwater,usuallyresulting
indecompositionofthesaidsubstance.(Source:OxfordDictionary)

Hygroscopic:(adjective):Ahygroscopicsubstanceisonethattendstoabsorb
moisturefromtheair(Source:OxfordDictionary)

NotchPropagation:Thetendencyofawireinsulationtopropagateacrackthrough
totheconductorwithongoingbendingcycles.Usualrequirementisexpressedasan
acceptablelimit.e.g.Thewireshallnotpropagateacracktotheconductorfollowing
aminimumoftenbendcyclesofthevnotchedarea.

Outgasses:Someinsulationmaterialsarevolatile.Inmanycriticalaerospaceand
semiconductorapplications,lowoutgassingmaterialsmustbespecifiedinorderto
preventcontaminationinhighvacuumenvironments.Outgassingoccurswhena
materialisplacedintoavacuum(verylowatmosphericpressure)environment,
subjectedtoheat,andsomeofthematerial'sconstituentsarevolatilized(evaporated
or"outgassed").Outgassingisrelatedtoconductortemperatures(i.e.loadcarrying
capabilities).

Radialcracking:Thiscanoccuraroundawire'scircumferenceandexposethe
conductorandcause'tickingfaults'.(seebelow)Causesofradialcrackingcanbe
naturaldeterioration,insufficientbendradiiordamageatinstallation.Oversignificant
stretchesofwireruns,thecausewillnormallybethedegradationsduetoaging,
coupledwithtopcoatflaking.Thislatterphenomenonisthenaturalbreakdownofa
shellaclikesubstanceappliedtoprotectaromaticpolyamide(i.e.Kaptontypes)in
particularfromhygroscopicactivity.Radialcrackingcanbeinitiatorsofticking
faults.

Ratedtemperature:Themaximumtemperatureatwhichagiveninsulationorjacket
maybesafelymaintainedduringcontinuoususe,withoutincurringanythermally
induceddeterioration.Ratedtemperatureofawiringinsulation/conductorgagemay
notremainconstantforthelifeofaninstallationduetotheagingprocess.

'Ticking'faults.Thisisanintermediateprocessofwiringinsulationbreakdown
wheresufficientconductorexposure(perhapsduetoradialcracking)coupledwiththe
earlyphaseofoutercarboncharringallows"arcinginminiature"(i.e."ticking")to
occur.Thinkofitassparklingalongtheoutersheath.Oncesufficientlyadvanced,this
processwillhavebuiltupasufficientcarboncharforfullblownselfpropagatingarc
trackingtooccur.Ifwetted(bysayagalleyortoiletleakorrampmoistureingress),
theconditionmayallowanearlier'flashover'event.

FOOTNOTES
1.KaptonArcTrackingandFlashover:AccordingtoDrArminBruningofthe
LectromechanicalDesignCompanyofDulles,VirginiaUSAacompanywhichhasbeen
contractedbytheUSNavyamongstotherstoinvestigateKaptonarctrackingthereason
Kaptonexplodesduringanarctrackingeventand'flashover'isbecause"thearcwillcausea
temperatureof5000degreesCelsius...andinthisconditioncarbonisvaporizedandfree
hydrogenisliberated."
Source:emailfromArminM.BruningLectromechanicalDesignCotoAlexPatersondated5
May2001
ItwouldappearthatencapsulatingKaptonbetweenlayersofTeflon[i.e.TeflonKapton
Teflon(TKT)]preventstheKaptonlayerfromdryingoutandcracking,aswellsuppressing
theproductionofhydrogenduringashortcircuit,renderingtheTefloncoatedKapton(i.e.
TKT)relativelybenignfromanarctrackingpointofview.
___________________________
2.AirbusIndustriesbeganusingahybridversionofKaptoncomprisingKaptoncoatedwith
Teflon(TK)madebyDupontinsomepartsofitsFlybyWireaircraftinthelate1990s.
However,accordingtotheAmerica'sforemostindependentaircraftwireexpert,Edward
Block,thistypeofwireis"justKaptonwithacosmeticcoatingofTeflonwhichisusedfor
markingpurposesonlyanddoeslittletoreduceKapton'spropensitytoexplosivelyarctrack".
However,seenote3below.
___________________________
3.Asofmid2006AirbusIndustrieshavestartedtoinstalltheirownversionofBoeing's
TKTintheirnewAirbusaircraft.ThiswireisdesignatedAirbus Specification No: EN2267008. This wire would almost certainly be much safer than bare Kapton, but Airbus Industries
refuses to disclose the performance attributes of this wire so it is difficult to determine for
certain how safe this wire actually is. See main wire table above for more details about this
wire.
___________________________

4.Source:AssertionmadebyEdwardBlockin'AerospaceTestingInternational'magazine
datedJune2009onpage39.

RELATEDWEBSITES:

Fact Sheet on Aircraft Wiring Problems - Project on Government Oversight (POGO)

AircraftWireArcTrackingbyPatrickPrice(deceased)Aresourceguidetoaircraft
wiring.

InternationalAviationSafetyAssociation(IASA)Aresourceguidetoaircraftsafety
andaircraftwiring.

RAFreportintoKaptonWiringpostedonlinebyIASA

AnAnalysisOfTheConventionalWireMaintenanceMethodsbySusanJeruto
Kiptinness(PDFfile1mb)

'AircraftDesignFeaturesthatEnhanceSafety'byAlexPaterson

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ABOUTALEXPATERSON
AlexPATERSONisanAustralianairlinepilot.Hewritesarticlesandadvisesonissues
pertainingtoaviation,politics,sociology,theenvironment,sustainablefarming,history,
computers,naturalhealththerapiesandspirituality.
Hecanbecontactedat:

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