A new FAA Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO 18011) discusses procedures for correctly installing and maintaining fluorescent luminaire cabin light fixtures in an airworthy condition, as well as identifies failures caused by mishandling, leading to damage and consequent overheating or fire.
According to the agency, operators have reported several incidents of smoke in passenger cabins caused by overheated fluorescent luminaires and ballast coils. Frequently, the cause of overheating is “mechanics not fully inserting a luminaire into contacts, or intentionally removing spring loading clips, placing tension on the luminaire,” the FAA said. “Partially inserted or unseated luminaires either vibrate without the clip or arc within the fixture’s contacts, overheating contacts and ballast coils, and increasing the possibility of smoke or fire.”
In addition, reports of overheating due to arcing between luminaire pins and contacts have prompted Airworthiness Directives for several aircraft makes and models.
Operators should be particularly careful when inserting a fluorescent luminaire to ensure the loading clip sufficiently tensions the luminaire, the FAA said. Mechanics should inspect for damage, overheating, or melting. The agency added, “Some manufactured ballast coils have installed arc fault protection, and some aircraft manufacturers have placed in maintenance manuals instructions for replacement of luminaires.”