Tag Archives: Boeing 777

Can Boeing 777 fuel tank explode from fatal flaw?!

Do Boeing 777 airliners have a fatal flaw, that could result in its fuel tank catching fire and exploding?! Find out what’s going on!

 

Claim : Boeing 777 Fuel Tank Can Explode From Fatal Flaw!

Boeing is in the hot seat again, after the Daily Mail and the New York Post reported that its 777 airliner has a fatal flaw that could result in its fuel tank catching fire and exploding!

Daily Mail : Exclusive – Revealed: 300 Boeing Planes used by United and American Airlines have potential flaw that could cause ‘fire or explosion’ on jets, according to FAA

The FAA proposed a new airworthiness directive earlier this year to address a potential flaw in Boeing jets, DailyMail.com can reveal.

According to the FAA proposal, the issue involved an electrical fault on the company’s 777 jets that, if left unaddressed, could cause fuel tanks on the planes’ wings to catch fire and explode.

Discovery of the flaw exposes that nearly 300 more Boeing planes are potentially at risk, including jets used by United and American Airlines, according to the notice by the Federal Aviation Administration.

New York Post : FAA reveals flaw in another major Boeing plane that could result in fuel tank exploding

Yet another fleet of Boeing airplanes was found to have a potentially disastrous flaw — one that could set the entire aircraft ablaze.

The aircraft manufacturer discovered that its 777 liner has poor electrical insulation near its fuel tank, according to a proposed rule the Federal Aviation Administration posted in March.

“This condition, if not addressed, could result in an ignition source inside the fuel tank and subsequent fire or explosion,” the Airworthiness Directives note states.

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Boeing + FAA Deny 777 Fuel Tanks Can Explode From Fatal Flaw!

After the reports came out, both Boeing and the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) pushed back on those claims.

The FAA said that it was not an immediate safety risk, while Boeing said that the regulatory process was being “sensationalised“, and called the Daily Mail’s report as “misleading and reckless“.

It makes incorrect connections and sensationalizes the standard regulatory process that has helped ensure air travel is the safest form of transportation.

This is not an immediate safety of flight issue. There are multiple redundancies designed into modern commercial airplanes to ensure protection for electromagnetic effects.

The 777 fleet has been operating for nearly 30 years, and has safely flown more than 3.9 billion passengers.

It should be noted that Boeing described this problem in a November 2023 alert bulletin. While it was not mandatory, it is likely that many airlines have already taken action, or are planning to fix the flaw, based on that Boeing alert.

The FAA also pointed out that its proposed airworthiness directive was based on the 21 November 2023 alert by Boeing, and would make mandatory what Boeing recommended.

The proposed [airworthiness directive], which the FAA issued in March 2024, would require installing electrical bonding and grounding to a component in the center fuel tank. It would make mandatory service actions that Boeing described in a November 2023 alert bulletin.

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I should point out that the flaw is not due to “poor electrical insulation” as the New York Post reported – the word “insulation” isn’t even mentioned once in the FAA notice. Rather, the flaw is due to a lack of an electrical bond to ground a cover plate – like a wire or something similarly conductive to dissipate any accumulated static.

In addition, it was not the FAA that came up with the solution. The FAA notice actually referred to the Boeing service bulletin of 21 November 2023 (PDF), which had detailed instructions on the fix!

Guidance for accomplishing the actions required by this AD can be found in Boeing Alert Service Bulletin 777–47A0007, dated November 21, 2023, which is referred to in Boeing Alert Requirements Bulletin 777–47A0007 RB, dated November 21, 2023.

The Boeing 777 requirements bulletin also listed a “recommended compliance time” of 42 months – 3.5 years, which suggests that Boeing does not consider it an immediate threat to aircraft safety. The FAA also concurred in its airworthiness directive proposal.

I should also point out that modern airliners like the Boeing 777 come with nitrogen-generating or nitrogen-inerting systems to reduce the risk of fuel tank explosions, after the tragic explosion of TWA Flight 800 in 1996.

Boeing uses a Nitrogen Generation System (NGS) in its aircraft, which separates oxygen-rich air from the left engine’s bleed air, which is discharged from the aircraft. The remaining nitrogen-enriched air is pumped into the centre fuel tank.

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As more nitrogen-enriched air is pumped into the centre fuel tank, the oxygen level drops from the usual 21% to 12% or less – at which point the oxygen concentration is too low to support combustion, thus mitigating the risk of an explosion.

In fact, the proposed FAA airworthiness directive specifically points to the Boeing 777’s nitrogen enriched air distribution system (NEADS). Ironically, the NEADS cover plate assembly is the potential source of electrostatic discharge.

So Boeing and the FAA would be correct that even though the cover plate assembly lacked “a designed electrical bond for electrostatic discharge“, there is no immediate safety risk, as there are redundancies built in, like the nitrogen-enriched air.

In short – this is hardly the “fatal flaw” that some people are claiming, and it can be easily resolved by simply installing an electrical bond at less than $2,400 per aircraft – mostly in manpower costs.

That said, you will want to eliminate all potential causes of sparking in the fuel tank, no matter how remote, even if there are other protective measures in place. Hopefully, the FAA will soon issue this airworthiness directive to make it mandatory, instead of optional.

 

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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.

He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.

 

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