Is it possible to prevent plane accidents due to fuel explosion?

shasi
  • Is it possible to prevent plane accidents due to fuel explosion? shasi

    We know that most of the plane accidents and deaths result from the explosion of fuel tanks in the planes, like when two planes collide, or when the plane falls on the ground.

    With the advent of technology, i wonder whether it is possible to prevent the fuel explosion.

    Can this be done by evaporating the fuel in the planes just before the collision? Or use a solid architecture encapsulating the fuel tanks in the planes, such that the fuel is not set to fire?

    What research has been done in this field and if so what were the findings?

  • Evaporating/misting is the primary cause of the fireball and adding to that just makes the fireball larger and takes a lot of energy that just isn't available.

    NASA tried to study anti misting measures with their controlled impact demonstration once using an additive that made the fuel more syrup-like so it wouldn't spray as much; they essentially made napalm.

    A solid structure to contain fuel may sound promising but that would add a lot of weight and is not bulletproof (designing a oblong shape that will survive an 800 km/h impact into concrete is far from trivial).

    One option would be to cut the engine+all power and force cool it down using the extinguishing system so there isn't an ignition source to catch the fuel on fire but again isn't fool proof and if there is no collision the plane will be dead in the air.

  • "We know that most of the plane accidents and deaths result from the explosion of fuel tanks in the planes"
    This is a fallacy. Most deaths don't happen because of explosions, but because of impact damage, fire, and inhalation of toxic fumes (in no particular order).
    Next to that, many people tend to get killed because they are crushed by fellow passengers during evacuations. And some die on the ground being run over by emergency vehicles or from environmental conditions (heat, cold, wildlife).
    Ratchet Freak correctly points out why your "solutions" won't work (in fact one of them will make the problems worse). And yes, research is being done and has been done. Modern jet fuel has a much higher flame point and vapour pressure than does regular gasoline as a result. Fuel tanks are fitted with baffles and sometimes coolers to keep the fuel liquid so it doesn't explode easily. This is in part a result of what happened to TWA800, one of the very few accidents to be caused by a fuel tank explosion (and there the explosion was itself only possible due to a combination of rare circumstances and chance events, made worse by maintenance problems with the aircraft).
    The image of aircraft (and cars, trains, ships, buildings, anything really) blowing up in a wall of flame at the least trouble is one created and perpetuated by Hollywood and has no reflection in reality whatsoever.

Related questions and answers
  • We know that most of the plane accidents and deaths result from the explosion of fuel tanks in the planes, like when two planes collide, or when the plane falls on the ground. With the advent of technology, i wonder whether it is possible to prevent the fuel explosion. Can this be done by evaporating the fuel in the planes just before the collision? Or use a solid architecture encapsulating the fuel tanks in the planes, such that the fuel is not set to fire? What research has been done in this field and if so what were the findings?

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