View Full Version : BA aircraft catches fire in US!

Vortex what...ouch!
6th Sep 2001, 15:13
I just heard on the radio that a BA aircraft caught fire while being refuled. Passengers were on board but all got off uninjured. One of the ground crew suffered burns but there was no indication of how bad.

Apparently the wings were scorched!

Does anybody else have any further details?

Edited for spelling

[ 06 September 2001: Message edited by: Vortex what? ]

6th Sep 2001, 15:41
The ground worker has died - no other injuries.

Pretty good initial coverage here:-

Denver BA B777 Fire (http://www.sky.com/skynews/storytemplate/storytoppic/0,,30200-1028621,00.html)

6th Sep 2001, 15:51
correct me, if i'm wrong, but refuelling a plane with passengers on board is against safety rules, isn't it ?

near enuf is good enuf
6th Sep 2001, 15:58
I think it depends on company procedures, at my company fueling while loading pax ok with steps on aft and doors armed but certainly a no-no whilst disembarking.
On BBC teletext it says pax were disembarking.
It's a toughy, the crew have no control of what a fueler does when they just pull on stand and the engineer might not have even reached the a/c at that stage !

6th Sep 2001, 16:00
It's a regular procedure although pax are advised not to fasten their seatbelts... I strongly disagree with this policy which is to reduce turnaround times.

[ 06 September 2001: Message edited by: xxzz123 ]

Metro man
6th Sep 2001, 16:05
Doesn't it have something to do with the type of fuel ? i.e. permissable to refuel with pax on board with JET A1 but not with AVGAS

6th Sep 2001, 17:03
Engine Failure,

It's not against the rules, although each company will have its laid down procedures for carrying out refuelling with pax on board.

Near Enuff,

Refuelling whilst disembarking is not a 'no-no'. Certainly in BA it is permitted and both flight crew and cabin crew are, according to Flying Crew Orders, to be aware that it may be happening even without having first spoken to the refuellers ie they might be putting on an 'initial' so many tonnes before getting the final figures.

According to the Company, the ignition source is not known but it seems the fuel hose disengaged from the aircraft, spilt a load of fuel on the ground and it is this which caught fire and scorched the aircraft.


6th Sep 2001, 17:37
As per schedules the flight has a turnaround
of two hours. But the flight according to BA FLIFO landed 40 min late at DEN.

6th Sep 2001, 17:41
Very bad news about the fatality. RIP.

Fuelling with pax on board tends more often than not to be a local airport ruling rather than an airline restriction - although airlines do naturally all have their own rules.

Many airports (e.g. in France) insist on having a fire vehicle standing by during the process.



6th Sep 2001, 17:53
Apparently the aircraft involved is 777-236 G-VIIK.

6th Sep 2001, 18:16
The same happened to a Tower Air B-747 Freighter in MIA a few years ago:

The ignition source was the fuel truck, it had a faulty exhaust "shield" if memory serves me right.

The repair bill was around $20 million.

6th Sep 2001, 23:10
Refuelling with Pax onboard acceptable in north America,provided doors armed,and crew member available,plus a pilot to radio if required.Aircraft well grounded.. :rolleyes:

Le Pen
6th Sep 2001, 23:45
Hi all

seems that the Aircraft section of the refuelling pipe broke off. This is of a reduced skin thickness at one point to cause minimum damage if the bowser should move while still attached. Under (ab)normal circumstances there is a emergency shut off valve on the fuelling truck which instantly closes off the fuel. It looks like the truck part didnt workcausing fuel to be sprayd around.

That is only a rumour and the rest is just conjecture.
Perhaps the fuel went over the hot part of the engine or the hose hit the ground and caused a spark.

Either way I feel very sad for the familly of the ramp worker and send my condolences.

This could have so easily been me or a colleague as Engineers still refuel in lots of places on the network.

Please forgive my grammar and spelling as it has been a long day.



Justin A Beaver
6th Sep 2001, 23:51
What a nasty way to go!

A needless tragedy!

Deep Cover Gecko
7th Sep 2001, 00:17
As already mentioned, condolences to the family.
With regards to disembarking passengers while fuelling, on one of my cabin crew training courses, the point was raised that should the need to evacuate arise, at least the passengers are already heading in the right direction!

Human Factor
7th Sep 2001, 01:05
BA company procedures allow refuelling with pax onboard (except with wide-cut fuels). However, airport/national regulations take precedence, so that if the airport doesn't permit it, it doesn't happen (in theory).

Very sad to have lost a life, but it could have been much worse.

Not seen any pictures yet but have heard varying stories relating to the amount of damage.

7th Sep 2001, 02:14

7th Sep 2001, 02:33
According to JAR-OPS 1.something Refueling with AVGAS is FORBIDDDDDEN. But with JET-A1 it is allowed according to company procedures, which have been approved by the authority and pax NOT boarding or disembarking.

Enter after the Virgin
7th Sep 2001, 03:11
Picture of the damaged 777 and a local report

9news.com (http://9news.com/newsroom/13214.html)

7th Sep 2001, 05:33
Re the report on the link above...

"The man was using a re-fueling crane about fifty feet above a British Airways jet when the fuel line broke, spraying gas onto a hot engine which caught fire. He was blown off the crane and engulfed in flames."

Can anyone tell me what a "re-fueling crane" is??? If he was at "50 feet", it sounds like the refueller was pumping gas into the top of the fin??? :eek:


7th Sep 2001, 08:13
From the Austrlian Civil Aviation Order 20.9

4.2 Passengers
4.2.1 The operator of an aircraft with a maximum seating capacity of 20 or more must ensure that avgas or aviation grade turbine fuel is not loaded onto an aircraft while passengers are on board, or entering or leaving, the aircraft unless, in the case of aviation grade turbine fuel, it:
(a) contains an anti-static additive; or
(b) is loaded in the USA and meets the ASTM D 1655 standard.

4.2.2 The operator of an aircraft with a maximum seating capacity of 20 or more must ensure that fuel, other than the kinds of fuel mentioned in paragraph 4.2.1, is not loaded on to the aircraft while passengers are on board, or entering or leaving, the aircraft, unless the following conditions are satisfied:
(a) before the fuel is loaded, all persons who may be on board, or entering or leaving, the aircraft while the fuel is loaded are told that:
(i) fuel is to be loaded; and
(ii) their seat-belts must not be fastened while the fuel is loaded; and
(iii) they must not smoke, use any electrical equipment or do anything else that might cause fuel vapours to ignite during the loading;
(b) all persons on board, or entering or leaving, the aircraft obey the instructions given under sub-subparagraphs (a) (ii) and (iii);
(c) a cabin attendant is appointed to perform the following tasks while the fuel is loaded:
(i) ensure the safety of the passengers;
(ii) maintain discipline inside the aircraft;
(iii) supervise any necessary evacuation of the aircraft;
(d) while the fuel is loaded:
(i) the aircraft’s “fasten seat belt” signs are turned off; and
(ii) the aircraft’s “no smoking” signs are turned on; and
(iii) the aircraft’s emergency lights (if any) are armed;
(e) while the fuel is loaded, there is at least 1 cabin attendant on duty in the aircraft:
(i) for every 72 passengers on board the aircraft; or
(ii) for every passenger zone in the aircraft in which there are passengers; whichever is more;
(f) while the fuel is loaded, there is at least 1 cabin attendant on duty by at least 1 exit door of each of the aircraft’s passenger zones in which there are passengers;
(g) all cabin attendants who are on duty in the aircraft while the fuel is loaded:
(i) are prepared for an immediate evacuation; and
(ii) supervise the passengers during the loading; and
(iii) ensure that the aisles and exits are unobstructed during the loading;
(h) the areas outside the aircraft that would be used if the aircraft were evacuated are kept clear while the fuel is loaded;
(i) the fuel is loaded using a system which gets the fuel from its container into the aircraft’s fuel tank without exposing it to the air;
(k) if the aircraft’s engine is running — a member of the aircraft’s flight crew is on duty on its flight deck;
(l) the operator’s operations manual sets out:
(i) the responsibilities of members of the operating crew who are on duty in the aircraft while fuel is loaded; and
(ii) procedures for complying with the requirements of this paragraph.4.2.3 Subject to paragraph 4.2.4, the operator of an aircraft with a maximum seating capacity of less than 20 must ensure that fuel is not loaded on to the aircraft while passengers are on board, or entering or leaving, the aircraft.

4.2.4 The operator of an aircraft with a maximum seating capacity of less than 20 may allow fuel that is not:
(a) avgas; or
(b) an aviation turbine grade which does not contain an anti-static additive;
to be loaded on to the aircraft while a passenger is on board if:
(c) the passenger’s medical condition is such that he or she cannot leave the aircraft without assistance; and
(d) the conditions set out in paragraph 4.2.2 are satisfied.4.2.5 If:
(a) fuel is being loaded onto an aircraft in accordance with paragraph 4.2.2 or 4.2.4; and
(b) either:
(i) fuel vapour is found inside the aircraft; or
(ii) for any other reason it is not safe to continue loading the fuel;the aircraft’s operator must ensure that the loading of the fuel stops immediately.

Plastic Bug
7th Sep 2001, 08:30
Well, I can't begin to think of the odds of this sort of thing happening. My God, how many times a day does some guy arrive at an airplane, recently arrived, and proceed to hook up his fuel truck.

I mean, he was just setting up!

Or maybe fueling was done and he was unhooking and there was still pressure in the hose when it decided to let go?

Either way, the whole accident is something that could happen to ANY of us. Imagine you are doing your walkaround... Absolutely absurd, but it happened.

It's certainly no way to go.

On another tack, someone sent me this link a while back, don't know where I got it, but it shows what happens when someone, well, runs over, a hydrant. It is most certainly NOT what happened here, but I thought it might be of some interest.



wryly smiling
7th Sep 2001, 12:05
Big Airways now have a special check to carry out a detailed visual inspection of the refuel/defuel couplings,lugs etc,on both wings.

7th Sep 2001, 12:36
We had I similar problem on on of our aircraft(757) when extreme over pressure from the bowser caused the internal refuelling pipe to split, resulting in a large fuel spill. Luckily the fuel did not ignite and was finally dealt with by the airport fire service.
The interesting fact that emerged was that the captain is responsible for the continuous monitoring and supervision of all refuelling operations i.e. Himself or his representative should be outside throughout the refuelling proceedure to ensure all regulations/safety proceedures are being carried out. How often do you stay and watch ?.

7th Sep 2001, 12:45
after this incident i doubt that any capt/fo will stand close to a fuel truck .....

7th Sep 2001, 15:07
would gnd engineer,atc or fire crew hve been the first to inform the flt deck.
at that point i doubt the flt deck would hve known the no. of pax still on board,the severity of the fire or the likely outcome of its containment.with only one aero-bridge connected it would take several minutes to de-plane.why did htey not initate an evac.considering the large unknowns in those forst few seconds?
im aware the apron can be a chaotic place with vehicles and loaders etc.but this is a fire of unknown quantity,not a propable containment case such as an apu where a fire handle could be pulled.
i believe it took a couple of mins for the fire crew to arrive.a long time in which a full evac could hve been carried out.i doubt all the pax could hve been deplaned from the aero-bridge exit in that time while the fire was still going?

7th Sep 2001, 16:05
Just imagine - a pax emergency evacuation half-way through disembarking!! Pax, bags and duty-free blocking aisles, doors not manned (are they/should they be??), some slides blocked by ground handling/baggage unloading/catering equipment & vehicles - what a nightmare scenario!! :eek:

7th Sep 2001, 17:32
i can well see the potential chaos.things worked out ok here but had the fire spread rapidly to the cabin or fuel tanks exploded as in bkk recently,perhaps the chaos would hve been a mute point if lives saved.
we dont know the speed/accuracy of info provided to the crew but it must hve been pretty accurate/speedy and from the fire crew,the only people to b in a position to atate the fire risk.yet i think they were not on the scene for 2 mins.i dont see how flt crew could asses the fire risk frm the flt dek.
had the fire spread 2 the fuselage, smoke in the cabin need not necesserily b visible until the fire has taken hold and so c.crew would not necesserily be able to advise flt deck.
h+p are u saying an apron evac is not a course of action u would consider available?
any examples of apron evacs out there for info.we all spend a lot of time on the apron connected to fuel trucks,aero bridges etc.

7th Sep 2001, 18:40
albatrossuk, not at all! I would use any means to save lives, if practical, such as using catering wagon(s) to get pax out on, jumping down onto cargo loading rigs, etc, etc. Just saying that a fire whilst disembarking pax had got to be one heck of a problem to deal with.

7th Sep 2001, 19:18
When you think about it - a/c on stand, pax disembarking, aisles blocked solid, bags, jackets etc everywhere and mabye those at the exit trying to get back inside when they see the fire - hmmmmm.... Perhaps some serious debate is needed on this issue as quite frankly I have never given this scenario as much thought as I have in the last 24 hours. The more you think about it the more alarming the whole issue becomes.

There are conficting reports in the media about the ramp workers fate - Sky have changed their story now saying that he survived with 90% burns.

[ 07 September 2001: Message edited by: xxzz123 ]

[ 07 September 2001: Message edited by: xxzz123 ]

7th Sep 2001, 19:50
I have never given this scenario as much thought as I have in the last 24 hours. The more you think about it the more alarming the whole issue becomes.

Agree. ISTM this is probably the worst case situation and I am not aware of any trials having been done. Consider:
1. Slides are not armed
2. Cabin crew probably at L1 saying bubye
3. Driver(s) may be out of cockpit doing same
4. Pax totally unprepared, encumbered by (generally large) carryons
5. Doors and overwing exits not manned

There might be a catering truck at one of the doors, but there's no way off it without lowering the lift. Highly unlikely any steps available or handy and jumping from a 777 (say) possibly suicidal.

Few Cloudy
7th Sep 2001, 19:52
Firstly, also my condolances to the berieved.

I have often realised that my aircraft had begun to be refueled while passengers were still disembarkng and have mentioned it to dispatchers, refuellers and the companies for which I have worked. The result has been a slow head shake of pity for the eager beaver making trouble - me. `' Nothing can happen", I have often heard - now this.

The point is that to refuel in an orderly way with pax on board, quite a few parameters have to be met (see also above - from Australia) - including, usually a pax announcement and various exit rules, depending on company and airfield.

The crew can only run these items if they are INFORMED. An early refuelling during or even before disembarkation does not allow crew coordination, so whether the pax are going the right way or not, nothing is prepared and somebody's rules are for sure being broken.

OK, in this particular case, the passengers/crew remained unhurt but when you see the fuss which is made on a "normal " refuel with pax on board BEFORE a flight, then compare it to the laid back refueling which goes on AFTER a flight, some serious changes need to be implemented.

7th Sep 2001, 20:53
Date Occurred:05-SEP-2001
Model: 777/236ER
Serial #: 28840
Part Name:Fueling adapter
Part #: S344T001-11
Nature of Event: During refueling at DEN, fuel hose separated from airplane spraying fuel. Fuel ignited upon contact with engine exhaust area and burned for aproximately 8 minutes. The fire damaged the left-hand thrust reverser half of the left engine, left outboard wing leading edge structure and composite panels, and the left-hand side of the left engine pylon.

The fuel truck operator received fatal burn injuries.

7th Sep 2001, 21:04
during refuelling co. policy states not to test wx radar or use/tune hf radios.
any policy out there regarding start of apu?

7th Sep 2001, 21:14
Given the esteem in which most journos are held on ths forum, I'm surprised that there hasn't been more comment on the use of the word "explosion" and "blast" in the Sky news report! :D

On a more thoughtful note, kerosene is a combustible, not flammable, liquid, with a flash point of between 110 and 162 degrees Fahrenheit (42-72 C) and an ignition temp of 410 degrees Fahrenheit (210 C). I believe (although I might be mistaken) that kerosense was deliberately chosen as an aviation gas turbine fuel because of these characteristics which make it relatively less likely to suffer from inadvertent ignition and particularly explosion.

Either way, it sounds like a particularly unluckly accident to me. I guess the air temperature was quite hot that day in Denver and that the fuel just happened to touch a particuarly hot part of the engine exhaust. A combination of unlucky circumstances; I don't think you need to start rewriting the rule books or getting paranoid about going up in smoke every time you do your walk-round just yet! ;)

7th Sep 2001, 21:54
Most manufacturers prohibit starting or stopping of APU during refuelling; in some cases this was not always so but now seems to be pretty universal.

8th Sep 2001, 02:19
There are sometimes extraordinary circumstances which require alternative methods of refueling a jet. Let me tell you about a situation at a Central American aeropuerto that does not have adequate ground air start equipment to start a large high bypass ratio turbofan, which would require a minimum of two air start units, preferably three. And suppose that your APU is out of service, what to do? Well, the answer is self explanetory. One engine is left running during the offloading/loading and refueling process. :cool:

8th Sep 2001, 03:08
Last week in FCO, while performing the walkaround, I just notice that the guy doing the refuelling was using his mobile phone... :mad:

8th Sep 2001, 09:02
Just like to add my tuppence worth here as a mechanic, this very nearly happened to me.
When the fuel is lifted from the ground outlets using a pump truck(not bowser) sometimes the gates/stands refuel points can be in a bad position in relation to centreline and engine positions.
This can result in overtension in the fuel hoses and couplings when you raise the platform to access the control panel.
In my case the hose coupling broke.I got a soaking and fuel poured onto a hot engine but luckily no flames and the refueller was quick on the dead mans trigger. :(

9th Sep 2001, 21:32
A few people out there seem to be making assumptions about how many passengers were on the aircraft at the time. For all we know it may have been a very small number. In that instance calling for a full evacuation as one post mentioned, could well be more dangerous.
When will people learn to wait to see the actual FACTS of an incident/accident before giving their opinion on how to avoid similar occurances in the future.

My condolances to the family of the refueler.

10th Sep 2001, 20:31
I can't find a report stating Joao Rodrigues died.

10th Sep 2001, 23:44
As at 0700Z on the 10th September the refueller was alive but very critically ill.

This information comes from the Captain of the subject flight.

Also at the time of the fire outbreak approximately 10 passengers were still to disembark.

10th Sep 2001, 23:45
JAR-OPS 1.305. Re/defuelling with Passengers embarking, on board or disembarking. (See Appendix 1 to JAR-OPS 1.305) (See IEM OPS 1.305)
An operator shall ensure that no aeroplane is re/defuelled with Avgas or wide Cut type fuel (eg. Jet-B or equivalent) or when a mixture of these types of fuel might occur. when passengers are embarking. on board or disembarking. In all other cases necessary precautions must be taken and the aeroplane must be properly manned by qualified personnel ready to initiate and direct an evacuation of the aeroplane by the most practical and expeditious means available

Appendix 1 to JAR-OPS 1.305. Re/defuelling with passengers embarking, on board or disembarking.
(a) An operator must establish operational procedures for re/defuelling with passengers embarking. on board or disembarking to ensure the following precautions are taken:
(1) One qualified person must remain at a specified location during fuelling operations with passengers on board. This qualified person must be capable of handling emergency procedures concerning fire protection and fire-fighting. handling communications and initiating and directing an evacuation;
(2) Crew, staff and passengers must be warned that re/defuelling will take place;
(3) 'Fasten Seat Belts' signs must be off;
(4) 'NO SMOKING signs must be on, together with interior lighting to enable emergency exits to be identified;
(5) Passengers must be instructed to unfasten their seat belts and refrain from smoking:
(6) Sufficient qualified personnel must be on board and be prepared for an immediate emergency evacuation;
(7) If the presence of fuel vapour is detected inside the aeroplane, or any other hazard arises during re/defuelling, fuelling must be stopped immediately;
(8) The ground area beneath the exits intended for emergency evacuation and slide deployment areas must be kept clear; and
(9) Provision is made for a safe and rapid evacuation.

In an attempt to adhere to the above, our mob is now running a test on the 737 fleet with walkie-talkies on each AC, to be used by the Purser.

Purser has to switch on the WT upon boarding and contacts the person who is responsible for fuelling to ask for status. If fuelling ongoing, Purser then informs cockpit crew, cabin crew and pax. The WT also has to be switched on as soon as ac arrived on stand, so fuelling boss can contact ac with fuelling status.

Had the WT 3 days this week and the system worked perfectly. Not only did I get direct report on fuelling, I could easily contact the ground agent, the catering and the comp security services when necessary. Loved it in other words, safer quicker easier!

But then one of the Captains I flew with had a real bee in his bonnet about me (Purser) being the One qualified person (who) must remain at a specified location during fuelling operations with passengers on board. This qualified person must be capable of handling emergency procedures concerning fire protection and fire-fighting. handling communications and initiating and directing an evacuation;

According to this CAptain, the only person who should be allowed to initiate an evacuation would be the Captain of the ac, unless incapacitated.

This is certainly the way it has always been in our comp, so he has a point. On the other hand, the Purser is the one who is in direct contact with the pax and in the cabin during a ground stop so there is something to be said for the new procedures as well.

I'm really not convinced either way on this one and would very much welcome some input from colleagues from both sides of the door.

11th Sep 2001, 00:47
Last night in KLAX I asked for ground power to be disconnected during refuelling. After reading all this I don't think I'll do that again either....