Foamex International Inc., the leading manufacturer of flexible polyurethane and advanced polymer foam products in North America, today announced that its Technical Products Group has been selected by the Federal Aviation Administration (the "FAA") to receive a congressionally appropriated Research and Development award in the amount of $729,062. The appropriation was made available at the request of members of the Pennsylvania and Indiana Congressional delegations, and through the leadership of Pennsylvania Senators Arlen Specter and Rick Santorum. The research funds will be used by Foamex's R&D Group to further the development of the Company's reticulated polyurethane Safety Foam technology for mitigating the effects of post-crash fuel fires in commercial passenger aircraft.
The FAA has placed significant emphasis on passenger aircraft fuel tank fires, particularly since the tragic accident involving TWA 800 in July 1996. Foamex has more than 30 years of experience in supplying Safety Foam products to the U.S. Military to mitigate fuel related fires in military aircraft and has been a key innovator in the continued development and improvement of the technology during that period. Safety Foam products continue to be used by the U.S. Military to protect aircraft such as the C-130 P-3, F-15 and others. Safety Foam is a flexible, lightweight, 3-dimensional polymer fire screen that has helped prevent fuel tank fires caused by gunfire, electrical ignition, lightning strike and static discharge and is also believed to reduce the effects of post-crash fuel fires. Foamex participated with the FAA in cooperative research aimed at lessening the fire hazards associated with fuel release during survivable crashes over the last year and believes that this new action by Congress and the FAA further recognizes the potential value of Safety Foam products to mitigate fuel fire hazards associated with commercial aircraft, possibly saving passenger lives.
Foamex utilizes unique VPFSM technology that may be employed in the development of the advanced foam products that further improve aircraft fire safety. VPFSM uses a fully enclosed environmental chamber to control the conditions under which the polyurethane foam is produced and allows independent control of foam properties and performance characteristics not normally possible in conventional foam making. Foamex is the only U.S. based foam manufacturer possessing this technology. Foamex's Vice President for Technology, Dr. Chiu Chan commented: "Foamex's predecessor collaborated with the U.S. Air Force to create the original Safety Foam technology more than 30 years ago. Combining those years of valuable experience together with recent novel technologies, such as VPFSM, strongly positions us to develop innovative products that are suitable for today's commercial aircraft market and will improve the safety of air travel". Together with its other technical strengths such as foam reticulation, Foamex is uniquely capable of supporting the FAA and is pleased to be part of this important work.
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