Proposed rule changes could have profound effects for operators of narrow-body bizliners with an auxiliary fuel system, and compliance could be costly for owners of some 75 airplanes.
Crest Foam Industries of Moonachie, N.J., which has been installing its explosion-suppressant arresting foam in the fuel tanks of racing cars and military aircraft (including USAF Beechjets) for years, has formed a joint venture–Engineering Inerting Systems–with Aircraft Services Group of Ramsey, N.J., to market the foam for business aircraft.
The FAA has extended the deadline from June 6, 2004, to Dec. 6, 2004, for Part 121 operators, including regional carriers, to comply with rules adopted in May 2001 that require airplane manufacturers and operators to change the way airplane fuel tanks are designed, maintained and operated. The rules are aimed at minimizing the potential for failures that could create ignition sources in fuel tanks on new and existing airplanes.
An NTSB preliminary report suggests that the Beechcraft King Air B90 (N10TM) that crashed into a parking lot in Chattanooga, Tenn., on September 19 ran out of fuel. The airplane was substantially damaged after hitting a light pole and cartwheeling into parked cars, but the ATP-rated pilot and three passengers received only minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed.
MD 600N, Vicksburg, Miss., Feb. 6, 2007–The NTSB said the loss of engine power on the MD 600, which landed hard on a logging road, was due to fuel starvation because the fuel transfer check valve was stuck in the closed position. The pilot was en route to refuel the helicopter, cruising at 115 knots at 500 feet agl, when the engine quit. The pilot autorotated and landed on the road, surrounded by tall trees.
U.S. equipment manufacturer Parker Aerospace (Hall 5 E21) is here at Le Bourget promoting its “core” flight-control, hydraulics, fuel and engine systems products in a “streamlined” exhibition stand. Parker is showing fuel-tank inerting systems, for which it has been working with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) for the past four or five years, said technology and innovation group vice president Mark Czaja.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is expected to issue fuel tank inerting rules in September in a bid to reduce the risk of explosions. In 1996, just such an explosion caused the in-flight break-up of a TWA Boeing 747, and the new FAA mandate will target both new and in-service airliners.
Large transport airplanes operated under Parts 91, 121 and 125 are the subject of an extensive proposal that realigns the design, installation and maintenance requirements of fuel tank system electrical wiring with already-adopted new regulations covering maintenance and inspections of fuel tanks themselves.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has essentially turned down a request that mobile fuelers be exempt from secondary containment requirements under the agency’s spill prevention, control and countermeasures (SPCC) plan. The Aviation Coalition, which includes the National Air Transportation Association, requested the exemption several months ago.
The FAA on Friday is expected to publish a widespread proposal that would require operators and manufacturers of airliner-size airplanes to incorporate technology to meet reduced levels of flammability exposure in fuel tanks (particularly center wing tanks) “most prone to explosion.” The rules would apply to new airframe designs, as well as some 3,200 U.S.-registered Airbus and Boeing airplanes with center wing tanks currently in operation.