Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Fire In Front

In a fire scenario, aircraft control can be lost at any moment

According to a search of NTSB data, in 2010, there were only four general aviation fixed-wing accidents investigated that involved in-flight engine compartment fires. That's a representative annual number. Initiating events commonly include things such as fatigue failure of cylinder fuel lines, leaking fittings and deteriorating hoses that should have been removed from service.

There are many opportunities to feed fires in engine compartments where you'll find hoses and lines full of fuel, oil and hydraulic fluid. The FAA has two terms to describe the flammability performance level of materials used in engine compartments: fireproof and fire-resistant.

Fireproof means that a material or component has been tested to withstand a flame of 2,000 degrees F, plus or minus 150 degrees, for a minimum of 15 minutes, and still be able to fulfill its design purpose. Materials or parts used to confine fires to designated fire zones, such as the firewall of an engine compartment, must be fireproof.

Fire-resistant is applied to lines carrying fluids, components like hose fittings, wiring, air ducts, and powerplant controls. Fire-resistant means that the component can perform its intended function under the heat and flame likely to occur at the particular location where it is installed for a minimum of five minutes when exposed to a flame of 2,000 degrees F, plus or minus 150 degrees.


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