Hot answers tagged

65

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. Dumping fuel would take a fair amount time to get rid of any significant amount. So it's "Screw the landing gear. We're landing overweight".


61

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 also has major advantages over helium in this role. For one, nitrogen is very close to air in density, and doesn't leak as easily as helium, so it's easier to ...


60

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 poses an unacceptable risk to people and property on the ground (or even in the water). Most aircraft with engine fires do not kill anyone on board, so why risk ...


56

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 Tower fire in Moscow; image from dailymail.co.uk According to a news article The Ka-32A11BC proved its fire-fighting credentials in April 2012, when a ...


55

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 not considered acceptable, and no reasonable pilot would delay the landing when they can land already. Landing overweight is not really a big issue. The ...


35

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 do not have access and control. This is certainly not always a good idea. Pulling the fire handle is a pretty aggressive move: It will typically disable ...


29

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 such a warm updraft, first the nose is lifted, and then the whole ship. At the same time, the airship starts to drop within that hot, rising air column, because ...


27

(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 Airbus, water-mist is to be used to cool the brakes. Water, CO2, or foam, are not to be used. All those cause sudden cooling that can lead to wheel cracks or ...


24

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. Some have a system to vent the smoke outside. In the crash of SAA flight 295 it was mentioned that the smoke evacuation procedure on the 747 Combi was to open ...


22

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 of a turbine engine: The air is compressed in the front of the engine, fuel is injected and ignited, and then everything flows out the turbine section and the ...


21

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 requirement for smoke hoods was the British Airtours Flight 28M, which had an engine failure during its take off roll at Manchester International Airport in ...


21

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 obvious that there's not a major amount of smoke coming from the brakes. As they approached the landing gear, they would have smelled serious brake heating. ...


19

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 off with a chunk of aircraft. After all, in case of El Al Flight 1862, ... engine no.3 and its pylon separated from the aircraft and damaged part of the ...


18

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 a concept along the lines of "Shut down the engine if you are not in a thrust critical situation." There is a saying that you never want to accomplish anything ...


17

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 03026G38KT CAVOK 32/10 Q1016 NOSIG= I have highlighted the wind speed data. It says that the wind at Athens airport was on average at 26 kts, with gusts up to 38 ...


17

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 and out the open window, likely clearing the air enough that the flying pilot (presumably on the other side of the cockpit!) can see the instruments & the ...


17

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. You have to rotate the handle (left or right) to discharge a bottle. (there are other bottle configurations based on the airplane type, but this is the general ...


17

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 the engine, and this is normally during ground operations especially during starts. The tail pipe has an overboard drain for this purpose, but it needs time ...


16

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 necessarily need to be connected with a loss of thrust. Visually, they are pretty diverse- there may be smoke, there may be little smoke (aside from that, what ...


15

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, only supporting piston aircraft operations, may not be able to help you, but anything which can handle a Lear Jet should be able to supply you with examples of it....


15

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, they're going into the "lower lobe cargo compartment" under the cabin floor. This is classified as a Class C compartment, which essentially means that the crew ...


15

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 somewhere else is going to have center of gravity implications. Moving it to wing pods or lager nacelles in particular would increase drag, which would require ...


15

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 sealing of the exposed reactor, preventing a far worse release of radiation. Sadly, the crews of those helicopters who responded immediately, died from ...


14

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 the fuel/hydraulic fluid flow to the engine. For example if a turbine blade detaches, penetrates the engine casing and cuts a fuel or hydraulic line. Indeed in ...


14

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 brakes are. If you had to use heavy braking upon landing, they're going to be hot. How hot they are tells the captain in part how he needs to taxi and whether he ...


13

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 area (just, as in doing a heroic job flying above a roaring fire) - spraying a water jet sideways from a heli would be more complicated but could probably be ...


12

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, compartmentalization (use of firewalls), isolation, proper ventilation and drainage. The active methods include fire detection and extinguishing systems. The fire ...


12

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 and pneumatic flow to and from the engine. Even aircraft that do not have fire suppression systems (such as the B-52), require the fire handle to be pulled if ...


12

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 burning fuel. To release its energy the fuel must necessarily "erupt" into a fire. So, the very problem that occurs when an airplane crashes and a fuel-fed ...


11

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 first-line firefighting technique as it's the most economical and the most likely to allow for a restart (less maintenance is required on an engine that's simply ...


Only top voted, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible