Aviation Investigation Report A98H0003

4.1.7  In-Flight Entertainment Network/Supplemental Type Certificate

  1. 4.1.7.1 - Transportation Safety Board of Canada
  2. 4.1.7.2 - Swissair
  3. 4.1.7.3 - Federal Office for Civil Aviation
  4. 4.1.7.4 - United States Federal Aviation Administration
  5. 4.1.7.5 - The Boeing Company

4.1.7.1  Transportation Safety Board of Canada

Early in the SR 111 investigation, it was discovered that the Swissair MD-11 in-flight entertainment network (IFEN) was connected to aircraft power in such a way that was not compatible with the emergency electrical load-shedding design philosophy of the MD-11 aircraft. The IFEN was powered from AC Bus 2, a bus that is not deactivated when the CABIN BUS switch is selected. Use of the CABIN BUS switch, which was the first item in Swissair's Smoke/Fumes of Unknown Origin Checklist at the time of the occurrence, is intended to remove most electrical power from the aircraft cabin.

The TSB alerted all stakeholders of this situation while continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding the Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) process that approved this installation.

4.1.7.2  Swissair

As a precautionary measure, on 29 October 1998, Swissair reacted to the TSB discovery by disabling the IFEN in both its MD-11 and Boeing 747 fleets. Eventually, Swissair removed the IFEN entirely.

4.1.7.3  Federal Office for Civil Aviation

On 13 November 1998, the FOCA issued FOCA Order 220.99 cancelling the validations of IFEN STC ST00236LA-D (MD-11) and ST00431LA-D (B-747).

4.1.7.4  United States Federal Aviation Administration

The FAA launched an internal Special Certification Review (SCR) of Santa Barbara Aerospace's STC ST00236LA-D, which ultimately resulted in the withdrawal of the IFEN certification. Subsequent to this review, the FAA has acted on several fronts as described in the following sections.

4.1.7.4.1  AD 99-20-08

Effective 13 October 1999, the FAA issued an AD that prevented the use of STC ST00236LA-D. The purpose of the AD was to prevent possible confusion, with respect to flight crew expectations, when performing their duties in response to a smoke/fumes emergency. Any confusion could impair their ability to correctly identify the source of the smoke/fumes and, therefore, affect the continued safe flight and landing of the aircraft.

4.1.7.4.2  Passenger Entertainment System STC Survey

The FAA conducted a survey of other passenger entertainment system STCs in an effort to quantify the extent of the problems identified during the SCR of STC ST00236LA-D. The survey identified unsafe conditions associated with various STCs, which resulted in the issuance of 18 ADs requiring changes to various passenger entertainment system design types. An extensive review revealed that these systems could remain powered despite flight crew procedures. Typically, these ADs required that operators deactivate or modify the entertainment system, revise crew procedures for removing power from the system, or remove the entertainment system from the aircraft entirely.

4.1.7.4.3  Aircraft Certification Service Policy Change

Based on the FAA SCR issued 14 June 1999, the FAA implemented the following corrective actions:

  1. A memorandum entitled "Follow-on Corrective Actions Pertaining to Aircraft Certification Systems Evaluation Program Findings at Delegated Facilities," dated 2 July 1999. The memorandum
    • reminded all Aircraft Certification Offices (ACO) to adhere to procedures that ensure Aircraft Certification Systems Evaluation Program (ACSEP) findings that require corrective action are addressed by the managing ACO; and
    • directed the ACOs to immediately implement the intent of Draft Order 8100.XX (Designated Alteration Station (DAS), Delegation Option Authorization (DOA)), and Special Federal Aviation Regulation (SFAR) 36 Authorization Procedures), as well as Notice 8100.13, "The ACSEP Criteria for Delegated Facilities."[122]
  2. A memorandum entitled "AIR-100 Policy Memorandum # 00-01, Proper DAS Program Notification (Letter of Intent) Content and FAA Response," dated 10 March 2000. The memorandum
    • prescribed a policy addressing what should be contained in DAS-submitted program notifications and ACO response guidelines; and
    • ensured that the DAS program notification and ACO response is standardized.
  3. A memorandum entitled "AIR-100 Policy Memorandum # 00-02, Designated Alteration Station Certification Activities Performed on Foreign-Registered Test Articles, and/or at Off-Site Locations," dated 13 March 2000. The memorandum
    • prescribed a policy addressing foreign-registered test articles and off-site activities of the DASs, including activities in other countries;
    • addressed a DAS providing certification services without performing actual engineering design or installation work;
    • stated that the DASs must specify who will perform the design and installation work, and the scope of each party's involvement; and
    • required a description of how the DAS will manage the other parties' activities to ensure that all certification requirements, including those performed at a location other than the DAS's, are met.
  4. A memorandum entitled "Interim Policy Guidance for Certification of In-Flight Entertainment Systems on Title 14 CFR Part 25 Aircraft," dated 18 September 2000. The memorandum provided information to FAA personnel resulting from the SCR of STC ST00236LA-D and a review of in-flight entertainment (IFE) systems certified by the STCs that
    • ensured a standardized approach to IFE system certification across all ACOs and DASs;
    • highlighted several unsafe conditions discovered during the STC reviews;
    • listed certification guidelines to prevent similar designs from obtaining FAA approval such as the following:
      • The IFE system should not be connected to an electrical bus that also supplies electrical power to systems that are necessary for continued safe flight and landing;
      • A means should be provided to remove power from the IFE;
      • CBs should not be used as a sole means to remove power from the system;
      • IFE wiring must be protected by appropriately rated and coordinated CBs;
      • Design and installation of an IFE should minimize any impact on aircraft operation; and
      • The STC applicant is accountable for certification of the entire IFE system, including the seat-mounted equipment.

Additional points resulting from the STC review included

  • insufficient certification data;
  • inadequate or missing requirements for maintaining IFE system separation from other systems;
  • failure to produce Instructions for Continued Airworthiness;
  • inadequate consideration for aircraft manufacturer's design philosophy; and
  • failure to prepare an adequate electrical load analysis.

4.1.7.4.4  DDS Program

Initiated in 1997, the FAA's DAS, the DOA, and SFAR 36 (DDS) Program satisfied the requirement to establish standard procedures, guidance, and limitations of authority for organizations (the DAS, DOA holder, and SFAR 36 holder) that the FAA appointed to act on its behalf. Prior to this initiative, the FAA had no directives that dealt with such delegations to organizations.

The first step in establishing this program was to draft an FAA order guiding the organizations and providing a common understanding of their authorized functions and the procedures they should follow when exercising their authority.

Expected outcomes of this program include the following:

  • Standardized election, appointment, and management procedures;
  • Certification processes that result in compliance with all regulations and FAA directives;
  • The understanding that a Memorandum of Understanding between an organization and the FAA is a prerequisite to appointment;
  • The program notification letter, formerly known as a Letter of Intent, should include both certification and conformity plans;
  • Increased FAA supervision of delegated organizations;
  • Increased project oversight;
  • Additional training requirements for the delegation;
  • Self-evaluations by delegations; and
  • The standardization, in both format and content, of the DDS procedures manual.

4.1.7.4.5  Organizational Designation Authorization

Supplemental to the DDS program, the FAA intends to consolidate all of its delegation authorization, applicable to organizations, into a single FAR Part 183. This consolidation would terminate DAS, DOA, and SFAR 36 authorizations. The focus of the Organizational Designation Authorization (ODA) will be on system processes and an organizational model, and not on individual staff members. The FAA will approve the ODA administrator, organizational model, and procedures manual. The goal is to prohibit eligibility of applicants that have little or no experience with FAA certification procedures.

4.1.7.4.6  Policy Statement ANM-01-04

The FAA released a notification entitled "System Wiring Policy for Certification of Part 25 Airplanes" on 2 July 2001. The notice announced the FAA's policy with respect to the type design data needed for the certification of wiring installed on transport category aircraft. The FAA stated that the policy is necessary to correct deficiencies associated with the submission of design data and instructions for continuing airworthiness involving aeroplane system wiring for type design, amended design, and supplemental design changes. The policy advised applicants for type certificates, amended type certificates, STCs, or type design changes of the range and quality of type design data considered acceptable to the FAA, as part of any certification project submission. The policy does not establish any new rules, but provides the applicant with advisory material on how existing rules (currently contained in 14 CFR, Part 21) are to be interpreted.

4.1.7.5  The Boeing Company

Boeing, as a supplier of factory-installed IFE systems, conducted a design review of its installations to confirm that no unsafe conditions existed. The review resulted in production changes (to several aircraft models) designed to isolate the IFE system from the cockpit.


[122]    FAA Order 8100.9 DOA, DAS, SFAR 36 Authorization Procedures was signed on 7 August 2002.

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Date modified :
2012-07-27