Click above for old old friend Bummer Dietz' tryout of some suspicious activity. He is intrigued by the rumors tied to the TWA 800 incident. He is skeptical of the government investigators from the NTSB. The bloodhound on the trail... Here is my post
Go to a hardware store and look at a plastic gas can. You will see a label (the anti-lawyer) that says something to the effect that 'you should keep the nozzle in contact with the tank at all times when filling'. The problem is that a moving stream of fuel will cause static electricity to build up. A plastic tank is not electrically bonded (i.e. grounded) to the nozzle so with enough charge, a spark can jump the gap. With a nearly empty tank, there is enough air to create a flammable mixture (e.g. between the 'lower explosive limit' and the 'upper explosive limit'). Especially note, that the "flash point" of jet fuel is about 100 degrees F, so the fact that the air conditioning system used the fuel in a tank as a heat sink plays a part.
A hot summer day combined with the added heat from the heat exchanger raised the fuel temperature above the flash point for the fuel (100 degrees F, which is why diesel powerboats do not have bilge blowers, but gasoline boats do. The fuel is not expected to ever reach 100 F and therefore will not ever reach the lower explosive limit of diesel). Now you get a BOOM because you have the three necessary elements; fuel, air and an ignition source. No mystery missile required!
Also note that the 747 is a big plane and that the missile warheads of man portable (MANPAD) missiles are quite small and have limited altitude capability. We just flew all sorts of sorties in Iraqi airspace using these precepts. The insurgents even hit a low altitude jumbo jet, which sustained minor damage to an engine nacelle (i.e. the infrared heat source) and still managed to land safely at Baghdad International (Was it a DHL plane? MSN Search it, we're boycotting Google!).
The current solution is to install a system to use reverse osmosis gas separation technology to separate the nitrogen in air from the oxygen and then inject the nitrogen into the fuel tank to exclude the oxygen (i.e. inert gas blanketing). No oxygen, no BOOM! Plus they have improved grounding of the fuel line to eliminate the spark gap. Engineers are notorious for "belt and suspender" solutions to keep the "WILD-EYED, AMBULANCE CHASING, BARRATRY LOVING TRIAL LAWYERS" at bay!
You feel better now? We just proved the blogosphere is self-policing! Congratulations!"
Personal note to Bummer - Leave the engineering to the engineers! I know that engineers feel competent to address legal issues, but the reverse is not necessarily true! That is because liberal arts majors can become lawyers! No "profession" with entry standards that low can expect to merit the respect of the general populace.
Update 2:10 AM 2/18/05 Bummer is turning out to be a GREAT STRAIGHT MAN!