FAA Experiments Implicate Oxygen Generators

Date:         17 Nov 96 20:04:04 
From:         "P. Wezeman" <pwezeman@blue.weeg.uiowa.edu>
Organization: The University of Iowa
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   This past Thursday's Wall Street Journal had a front page article about
the investigation into the Valujet crash in Florida. According to the
article, FAA investigators performed a simple experiment in which they
put uncapped oxygen generator cannisters in a box, sealed the box airtight,
and triggered one of the cannisters. There was no visible result for several
minutes, but eventually a very intense fire started and burned its way out
of the box, with no source of ignition except the cannister.
   They did not achieve ignition with every repetition of the experiment,
but often enough to make this the likely scenario for the disaster. Again
according to the article, the uncapped cannisters in the aircraft's hold
could have been triggered by jolts typical for air cargo. To support this
recall the posting here several months ago by the person who put a recording
accelerometer in his luggage on an airliner.
   According to the FAA, the timing of events in the experimental fires
suggests that the fire probably started before the plane took off, and that
fire detectors in the cargo hold would have alerted the crew to abort the
take-off and evacuate. They plan to require retrofit of cargo hold detectors
to all airliners, which news was on the national media that same day. Smoke
and heat detectors were formerly thought to be unnecessary since it was
assumed that a fire in a cargo hold would quickly smother from lack of
air. Oxidizing materials of all sorts are also to be banned from air cargo.

                        Peter Wezeman, anti-social Darwinist

                             "Carpe Cyprinidae"