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Phyre Technologies Inc says it has successfully tested a system designed to prevent fuel tank explosions such as that on Trans World Airlines Flight 800, which broke up over the Atlantic Ocean 11 years ago.
The company said that the technology is called the GOBIGGS and is the result of several years' development in anticipation of the pending FAA ruling which will require improved fuel tank safety systems on commercial passenger aircraft.
According to Phyre Technologies there have been 17 worldwide aircraft fuel tank explosions since 1960, and of these three involved a heated centre wing fuel tank for which no ignition source could be determined: Philippine Airlines in 1990, TWA Flight 800 in 1996 and Thai Airways International in 2001.
Prior to the TWA 800 accident most aviation experts reportedly believed that minimising ignition sources was the best way to avoid a fuel tank explosion.
However, the FAA, airlines, manufacturers and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) now believe that the solution to avoiding aircraft fuel tank explosions lies in reducing the flammability of the tank as well as eliminating ignition sources.
Phyre Technologies claims that it has developed the first environmentally friendly on-board fuel tank inerting system for large passenger jets. The GOBIGGS is a closed-loop system that reduces tank flammability by replacing the oxygen in the fuel tank with an inert gas, such as nitrogen, and thus prevents the potential ignition of fuel vapour.
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