Boeing says insulation blankets 'no problem'
Earlier this week, local newspapers reported that the US Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) ordered operators of some Boeing aircraft models to replace or modify certain insulation blankets over the next six years to reduce the risk of fire spreading.
The insulation blankets in question are used in 27 Boeing aircraft in China. "The problem was caused by new and tougher standards and there is actually no safety problem," Liu Jiang, vice-president of Boeing China Inc, told China Daily yesterday.
The primary purpose of aircraft insulation blankets is to protect the passengers and crew from engine noise and frigid temperatures at high altitudes.
The FAA directive was prompted by a discovery in 2002 that some insulation blankets, which are coated with a film called AN-26, no longer meet new standards for preventing the spread of fire, said Liu.
He said Boeing has been notifying Chinese air carriers of the problem since 2002 and been offering technical support.
"The handling of the AN-26 issue has been ongoing," he said.
There are about 1,600 Boeing 727, 737, 747, 757 and 767 aircraft worldwide that use this type of insulation all were made between 1981-88. Of those, 27 are registered in China.
Insiders say China's "big three" airliners Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines all have aircraft that use this type of insulation.
"I think it's more about standards than quality," said a news officer with Air China.
To replace the blankets, as the FAA has proposed, would cost approximately US$330 million.
(China Daily 04/08/2005 page2)