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65 votes
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Why didn't Philippine Airlines Flight 113 dump fuel prior to forced landing?

If you had an engine fire, even though it may be "out", you want your airplane on the ground as soon as you possibly can. You don't know what structural damage is lurking as a result of the fire. ...
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62 votes
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Why not just drop an engine on fire?

The current position of regulators like the FAA is that dropping things off of airplanes in flight is a bad thing. Dropping extremely large and heavy things like engines would be extremely bad. This ...
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62 votes

Has anyone considered filling aircraft voids with helium to reduce the risk of fire?

Yes, it has been considered, but with some differences. First, the inerting gas used is not helium - it's nitrogen. Nitrogen also doesn't support combustion, and is for practical purposes inert. It ...
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56 votes

Why can't helicopters or Zeppelins drop fire-fighting material on burning buildings?

First, they have been used, like in case of the Federation tower fire in Moscow on 2012. The image below shows a Kamov Ka-32A11BC being used to fight fire in that case. Helicopter fighting Federation ...
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55 votes

Why didn't Philippine Airlines Flight 113 dump fuel prior to forced landing?

On twin-engined aircraft the standard procedure for engine failure is to land as soon as possible. Since it is possible to land overweight—and aircraft are designed so that it is—delay to dump fuel is ...
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35 votes
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Why don't aeroplanes automatically put out engine fires?

Shutting off the computer is difficult from a technical implementation standpoint. You're handing over a lot of power to the computers and sensors letting it shut down an engine, where these usually ...
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29 votes

Why can't helicopters or Zeppelins drop fire-fighting material on burning buildings?

Fire creates heat, which in turn creates turbulence. While soaring enthusiasts welcome this as thermals, lighter-than-air captains dread such turbulence as their worst enemy. When the airship enters ...
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28 votes
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How do fire crews handle hot brakes?

(Airbus) A320 landing gear approach paths. It's important to approach the landing gear from the right angle, because an explosion could throw deadly debris at the firefighters. Cooling According to ...
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24 votes
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Why do jet engines sometimes spit out flames after ingesting birds?

As RedGrittyBrick has commented, what happened in that video is a compressor surge. This is not really an engine fire, but a temporary backfire. To understand what is happening, look at this diagram ...
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24 votes
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How to land the aircraft when the flight deck is full of smoke?

Smoke is a real challenge on an aircraft. The first course of action, other than extinguishing the source of the smoke, if possible, is to evacuate the smoke. In some aircraft windows can be opened. ...
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  • 27.5k
22 votes
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Why don't airlines provide smoke hoods?

This is an issue on airline passenger safety that has been debated since a very long time, and there are various arguments for and against the use of smoke hoods. A classic example which showed the ...
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21 votes
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When the brakes are checked, what do the firemen actually do?

There are specific protocols that procedurally are required to be followed. Insofar as brake inspection is concerned, it would have been obvious from the trucks that there was no brake fire. It's also ...
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20 votes

Why not just drop an engine on fire?

The fact that the modern aircraft could fly with one engine out does not mean that the offending engine should be dropped. It is better to have it in the aircraft rather than risk the engine taking ...
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19 votes
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Can an airplane engine fire be extinguished without shutting down the engine?

In most modern jets (e.g. Boeing 757/767) when you pull the fire handle the engine shuts down (fuel, hydraulic, etc., are cutoff). But pulling the fire handle only "arms" the extinguishing system. ...
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  • 16.7k
18 votes

Why don't aeroplanes automatically put out engine fires?

There are a few reasons why this might not be a good idea: An engine fire in a typical jet aircraft does not necessarily need to be shut down immediately. Most of the jets that I have flown include ...
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  • 57.5k
17 votes
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Wind speed over which a Canadair fire fighting plane cannot safely fly?

The problem is not the wind speed per se, but the combination of factors. Let's start from the data; this is the METAR for Athens on the 17th of July, the day of the fires: METAR LGAV 171220Z ...
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  • 31.5k
17 votes

How to land the aircraft when the flight deck is full of smoke?

In the worst case, you can depressurize the cabin and then open a window (at least, on the aircraft with cockpit side windows that can open -- e.g. for emergency egress). This draws the smoke forward ...
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17 votes
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Can a tail pipe fire occur in cruise? If not, why not?

It comes down to the definition of "tail pipe fire". A tail pipe fire is normally what you might call a "static fire" of unburned fuel accumulating in the tail pipe with little to no airflow through ...
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16 votes
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How does the pilot check if an engine fire is real?

Engine fire implies that there is a strong heat source (commonly a fire, but could be a hot substance) in a location there should not be, usually around the outside of the engine. Engine fires do not ...
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15 votes
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Is all jet fuel the same?

The fuel used by civilian airlines, fueled in the USA, is Jet A. To acquire some, go to a nearby airport which can handle operations by Turboprop or Turbofan aircraft. Some of the smaller airports, ...
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  • 1,257
15 votes

Is the life of pets considered when dealing with a cargo fire indication?

What happens to live animals in cargo depends on the type of airplane and the class of cargo compartment they're traveling in. For a typical passenger airliner, if you check your animal as baggage, ...
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  • 1,030
15 votes

Can we eliminate the center tank of large passenger planes?

I'm assuming you're talking passenger safety in the event of a ground impact - if anything happened midair, it wouldn't really matter if it were in the fuselage or one of the wings. Moving the fuel ...
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  • 636
15 votes

Why not just drop an engine on fire?

A major issue is that it's not really the engine itself which is on fire, in fact they are supposed to be on fire in a sense. In many cases an engine fire really means that you have lost control of ...
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15 votes

Why can't helicopters or Zeppelins drop fire-fighting material on burning buildings?

The most extensive use of helicopters for firefighting (and sealing a reactor) was Chernobyl. The Helicopters of Chernobyl In fact, nothing but a helicopter could possibly have performed the partial ...
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  • 8,557
14 votes
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Is wheel well overheat detection (not brake temperature sensor) necessary for commercial jet aircraft?

What's the main purpose of this detection system even there are brake temperature sensors. Far more often than not, the need for brake temperature sensors is after landing to tell you how hot the ...
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  • 38.7k
14 votes

Can an airplane engine fire be extinguished without shutting down the engine?

I wanted to add to 757toga's answer. In addition to being required to "pull" the fire handle before you can discharge the fire suppressant, which cuts off the fuel, hydraulics, electrical generation ...
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13 votes

Why can't helicopters or Zeppelins drop fire-fighting material on burning buildings?

Helicopter firefighters do exist, and are used here in Australia for extinguishing bushfires. Elvis is here on a regular basis. Bushfires just require to plonk a load of water on top of the burning ...
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  • 57.7k
13 votes

How about inventing a "fuel" that will not erupt into fire?

Airplane engines (reciprocating/turbine) are designed to run on petroleum based fuel. When burned, fuel releases energy in order to power the engines that were specifically designed to be powered by ...
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  • 16.7k
12 votes
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Might a large commercial jet dump fuel if an engine were on fire?

An airliner experiencing an engine fire might dump fuel, but not to starve the engine. That is much more easily accomplished by simply shutting down the fuel pumps to that engine, which would be a ...
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  • 22.2k
12 votes

How does a fire suppression system work?

The fire suppression system in an aircraft uses both passive and active systems to reduce and eliminate fires. Passive methods include the use of noncombustible materials, separation by routing, ...
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  • 98.3k

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