Aviation Investigation Report A98H0003

4.3.7  Arc-Fault Circuit Breaker Certification

Significant research and development has been done in recent years to quantify and address the inherent limitations of existing aircraft CB design. This work has resulted in a new type of CB known as the AFCB, capable of reacting to a wider range of arc fault situations. The AFCB will prevent an arc fault from developing into a more serious situation that could damage other nearby wires and will limit the energy available to ignite flammable materials. While the AFCB trip characteristics will provide major improvements over the traditional aircraft CB design, these devices will not be certified to a standard that will require that the AFCB trips prior to the ignition of nearby flammable material. The Board is concerned that unless this aspect of the design specifications is addressed, AFCBs certified for use on aircraft will be capable of remaining energized long enough to ignite nearby flammable material.

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