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Warplane system 'could stop mid-air explosions'

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 Explosion-prevention systems

Boeing says a spark from wiring in the pumps of any of it's aircraft in commercial service could ignite vapour in a near-empty tank.
 Last week the company said 35,000 fuel pumps could malfunction and that newer 737s, plus all 747s and 757s, need to be checked.

The US Federal Aviation Administration has ordered inspections of relevant planes owned by US airlines, and said that in the meantime commercial airliners should carry enough fuel to keep the pumps covered at all times. That will prevent a vapour explosion even if a pump is faulty. Regulators in other countries normally follow the FAA's lead.

Experts want the FAA to order the installation of fuel tank "inerting" systems that would prevent sparks causing an explosion. One way to do this is to pump nitrogen into the fuel tank, smothering any spark.

The centre fuel tank, one of three in the 747, is giving the most cause for concern on the Boeing aircraft under scrutiny. This tank is often empty or nearly empty on flights where extra fuel is not needed. Vapour in this tank can be heated by waste heat from air-conditioning units, raising the risk of explosion.
Inflated estimates

In 1996, the US National Transportation Safety Board recommended that the FAA amend its regulations to require fuel-tank inerting systems on all new commercial jets. Similar systems are already in use on some military planes.

 FAA engineers are pressing ahead with tests on two types of system. One would inject nitrogen into the fuel tank on the ground. Another would pick up nitrogen during the flight, using a membrane to filter it out of air passing through the jet engine, and funnel it into the fuel tank.

 ::) I thought this was something already done for newer planes... 1996, that's a long time ago...

Yes you could be right but I don't know what year it became part of new production. As they said, to alter all existing aircraft would cost the earth.
I put this up for information only about fuel in tanks and how they recommended all tanks not to be drained dry.

I meant the US National Transportation Safety Board recommendation. From when is the Boeing release?



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