777 fire? (fwd)

From:         "Richard A. Muirden" <richard@rmit.EDU.AU>
Date:         27 Jun 96 12:42:07 
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I got this from a friend re the 777 incident...

  The HongKong Standard, 24 Jun 1996, p.1:-

  About 300 passengers were evacuated from a
 Cathay Pacific's aircraft that landed at Hong
 Kong's Kai Tak airport on 23 June 1996. The
 evacuation was due to a false fire alarm
 triggered by high moisture fruit on the plane's
 cargo section.

  The plane will not take off until the Civil
 Aviation Department finish its investigation of
 the fire alarm system. In addition, the
 airline may revise its current policy of
 carrying high moisture goods on planes.


The fruit is Durian. I don't know how anyone can eat it as it really smells
awful.  Carrying Durian is a problem, as it has a very high moisture
content which affects the smoke detectors in all aircraft. Over the years
there have been several false fire warnings caused by Durian.  Because of
this, airline companies have special procedures for carrying Durian, such
as only in certain baggage holds and wrapped up in plastic.  It would
appear that the smoke detectors on the B777 are even more sensitive than
on other aircraft, as current procedures for carrying Durian on other
aircraft seem to alleviate the problem.

Cargo fire warnings are a very sensitive issue, as many aircraft over the
years have been lost.  Cargo compartments have 2 independent fire warning
systems and a warning is only given if BOTH systems detect a fire. The
crew then flood the compartment with Halon fire extinguishant.  If the
fire warning continues then you really start to think the worst and get
the passengers off quickly. You never open a cargo compartment that has
a fire warning if passengers are on board.  The compartment is sealed and
by then filled with Halon.  When the compartment is opened the Halon
escapes and air then feeds the fire.   It would be very foolhardy to
assume any warning was false.

Aircraft manufacturers are talking about installing video cameras in
cargo compartments and outside the aircraft so that the crew have more
information before making any decisions. Can't come too soon.

Richard A. Muirden, CNA, RMIT ITS Core Unix Systems Admin: Web+News+Post -Master
 mailto: richard@rmit.EDU.AU                  phone: 9660 3814, Fax: 9662 5652
likes: Boeing 'planes, United Airlines, Chocolate anything, Vodka drinks, Sci-fi
        127 Shostakovich CD's to date. http://www.rmit.edu.au/richard