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Aircraft Fire Hazards, Protection & Investigation Course

By N. Albert Moussa, PhD, PE

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Course Outline

  • Flammability of Fuels, Oils and Hydraulics
    • Current and alternate compositions (biofuels)
    • Vapor pressure, flash/fire points
    • Ignition and flame temperatures
  • Fuel Tank Fire and Explosion
    • Ullage flammability and deflagration
    • Predict fire/overpressure using BlazeTank
    • N2 Inerting: 9% vs. 12% O2
    • Penetration/perforation by debris/bullet impacts
    • SFAR 88: lessons learned (B747 New York)
  • Engine Fires
    • Hot surface vs. auto ignition temperature tests
    • Full-scale tests on AV8-B and simulated F-16
    • Protection systems
    • Engine failure (Dana Airlines, MD-83, JT8D, Nigeria)
    • Uncontained engine failures (United, DC-10, CF6,Sioux City, IA; Qantas A388, A380, Trent 972,Bantam Island, Indonesia)
    • Mechanical Failure (China Airlines 120, B737,CFM56, Okinawa, Japan)
  • Post-Crash Fires
    • Pool fire and anti-misting fuel
    • Incorrect runway during takeoff (Comair 5191, CRJ-100, Lexington, KY)
    • Runway Excursion during landing (Air France 358,A340, Toronto, Canada)
    • Impact (Asiana 214, B777, San Francisco, CA)
    • Aborted takeoff (Continental 603, DC-10-10, Los Angeles, CA)
  • Flammability of Polymeric Materials
    • Thermal degradation, ignition, flaming, smoldering, smoke, toxicity, flame retardants
    • FAR 25.853 test methods
    • Effects of pressure and oxygen concentration
  • Cabin Fires
    • Breached fuselage during crash vs. burn-through
    • Flammability of seats and panels
    • Flashover (full scale FAA tests)
    • Protection equipment
    • Passenger evacuation (British Airtours 28M, B737, Manchester, UK)
  • Fires in Cargo and Hidden Areas
    • Ventilation, smoke/fumes movement
    • Wiring problems, causes, fixes and challenges
    • Swiss Air 111, MD-11, Nova Scotia
    • Thermal acoustic insulation
    • TUPS 1307, DC-8, Philadelphia, PA
    • Saudi, L1011, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
    • Combi, South African 295, B747, Mauritius, Indian Ocean
    • United 95, B767, London, UK
    • Pan Am 160, B707, Boston, MA
  • Flammability of Composite Structures
    • Unique properties of composites
    • Fire test methods
    • Thermal degradation model
    • Composites v. Aluminum structures
    • Unmanned Aerial vehicles
  • Li Battery Fires
    • Battery essentials: primary and rechargeable cells
    • Battery fire hazards
    • Battery safety standards and testing
    • Effectiveness of fire extinguishers
    • Li-ion battery fire in Dreamliner (Japan 008, B787,Boston, MA)
  • Li- Battery Fires in Cabin
    • Incidents involving PEDs and laptops
    • Cell phone fire (Qantas 7, A380, SW of Dallas)
    • Protection methods in cabin
  • Li- Battery Fires in Cargo
    • UPS 6, B747, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
    • FedEx 1406, DC-10, Boston, MA
    • FedEx protection system
    • UPS protection system
  • External Hazards That Can Impact Aircraft
    • Classification of energetic/hazardous materials
    • Deflagration vs. Detonation
    • Detonation of Improvised Explosive Devices
    • Air blast from explosives
    • Internal explosions (Pan Am 103, B747, Lockerbie,Scotland)
    • FAA full-scale explosive tests
    • Structural response: local v. global deformation
    • Oxygen generator fire (ValuJet 592, DC-9, Everglades, Miami Dade Count, Florida)
    • Shoulder mounted missile (DHL A300, Baghdad,Iraq)
  • Fire Detection and Suppression Systems
    • Pros and cons of various detector types
    • Halon replacement agents, clutter effects
    • Onboard fire suppression
    • Ground-based suppression
  • Aircraft Accident Investigation Process
    • Regulatory vs. investigative roles (NTSB, FAA)
    • Anatomy of a fire accident; accident precursors
    • Forensic tools
    • Timeline and pathline reconstruction
    • Critical tests and modeling
    • Accident vs. incident databases
    • Contributory human factors
  • Summary of Fire/Explosion Pattern Recognition
    • In-flight vs. ground fires
    • Explosives vs. fuel vapor explosions
    • Pre- vs. post-crash fires
    • Structural failures identification
    • NFPA 921
    • Lessons learned

Discussions are carried throughout the course


Dr. N. Albert Moussa PhD, PE