Tim van Beveren/MIAMI

A shortage of the new insulation blanket material to replace the metallised Mylar in current use is holding up Swissair's Boeing MD-11 fuselage insulation modification programme, according to the airline's maintenance organisation SR Technics. The airline says it had planned to have three aircraft modified by now, but has only been able to complete two.

The replacement was directed by the US Federal Aviation Administration when it became apparent that the flammability of the Mylar may have contributed to the 2 September 1998 Swissair disaster near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Boeing says it is "adding capacity, though that's a process that takes time. We have a finite amount of capacity and are working with our customers to produce the blankets in time for maintenance overhaul. It is working for people that ordered in time for their maintenance issues." SR Technics says that it is crucial to deliver on time for scheduled overhaul, or the aircraft have to be taken out of service again just for insulation work.

The FAA has confirmed that, with Boeing, the Canadian Transportation Safety Board and MD-11 operators, phase four of an MD-11 modification programme has begun with the publication of nine further Notices of Proposed Rulemaking for circuit-breaker and wiring modification, and insulation replacement in cargo compartments. The deadline for comments is 6 April.

Source: Flight International