Re: Could TWA800 really have happened this way?

Date:         06 Jan 97 01:47:45 
From:         cjardine@wctc.net (Chris Jardine)
Organization: Wood County Telephone Company
References:   1
Followups:    1 2
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cjardine@wctc.net (Chris Jardine) wrote:

Just a quick followup on some of the comments made here.

1) Considering the fact that jet fuel is "Basically!" similiar to
diesel fuel. My brother is a diesel mechanic who said that they weld
on fuel tanks that are full, half full, near empty, and empty. They
don't have to worry about explosions due to the high ignition
temperature of this type of fuel. I wonder whether static electricity
would have the heat potential to ignite a fire in a fuel tank. ?????

2) I haven't seen any authoratative discussion of the ability of this
type of fuel to cause catastrophic failure of the structure of an
aircraft at the rate required to see what happened here. I've seen the
results of a number of jet fuel 'explosions/fires' like the KC-135 at
Mitchell field in Milwaukee a few years back. This aircraft basically
burned to the ground. It did not come apart. There are other examples
of the same phenomenon. (sp?) I also realize that like some have
mentioned that jet fuel has more energy potential than even
high-octane fuel. The problem here is in the way that jet fuel burns
under almost all conditions. It burns extremely hot, but, fairly
slowly. That's why (theoretically anyway) that jet fuel is safer than
fuels like gasoline (high or low octane).

3) Having said all of this I realize that it is possible that I am
wrong here and that the fuel alone could cause the type of damage seen
here and that static may have triggered the event. In that case as a
technician who has repaired many electronic devices including static
protection devices on transmitters with tall towers I can tell you
that all it would take to cause that kind of problem would be to
mismatch metals (aluminum to damn near any other metal) with a
potential source of current flow and you have corrosion. Then you
loose the grounding bond designed into the equipment and all hell
breaks loose at the worst possible moment. All it would take here is a
momentary lapse in intelligence on the part of a technician doing a
repair. You could put in a steel bolt that is not properly plated and
in a short time you have corrosion. After that it's anybodies guess as
to what is going to happen.

Let's keep the discussion going here. Who knows, maybe something said
here may make it to the people actually involved in the investigation
and it may show them something they've overlooked. Whatever the cause
is noone in his right mind wants it to repeat, so let's hope there is
a definative answer soon!

Chris Jardine

http://www.wctc.net/~cjardine/