Ed Block and Patrick Price
These two Americans were both experts in the same very specialized field of aircraft wiring. But they were working on opposite coasts and within very different systems. Patrick Price was a chief technician with the world’s largest aircraft manufacturer, Boeing in Seattle. Ed Block was a wiring expert with the Pentagon.
Both had spent years researching Kapton, a material which was used for insulating wires. Due to a long list of positive characteristics Kapton had for years been the preferred insulation for the miles of wiring, which is used on modern civilian and military aircraft. But Ed Block and Patrick Price respectively discovered that Kapton had other characteristics as well. In fact one of these characteristics was potentially lethal.
Studies at Boeing, the Pentagon, and at Swedish aircraft manufacturer SAAB had proved that the isolation material was explosive. Hardly the most comforting characteristic for a material, which is used by the pounds and miles on board an aircraft.
The explanation is a relatively technical one, but in short it means that if the Kapton insulation of just one wire in a bundle (wires are bundled in hundreds around the hull of an aircraft) were to crack, which typically happens, when the aircraft reaches a certain age, spark from the exposed wire could jump to other wires in the bundle. This could create small explosions, which again could ignite other materials on board. Kapton was – and is – under suspicion in numerous accidents and incidents involving fire on board an aircraft.
Both Boeing and the Pentagon tried to keep the studies documenting the potentially lethal characteristics of the Kapton insulation a secret. But within both organizations was a whistleblower, who leaked the findings.
One of them was Ed Block, who was subsequently fired from the Pentagon, allegedly for committing a $ 29 fraud...!
Until his death in 2002, Patrick Price ran a website dedicated to spreading the word about Kapton and other matters with regards to flight safety. You can check out the website by clicking here. Please note that it is no longer being updated.