View Full Version : Fuel Tank Protection

23rd Oct 2008, 00:19
Which other C-130 users apart from the US has installed 'active fuel tank protection' in their C-130's or equivalent?

I'd assume that Israel has, but what about:

South Africa
New Zealand

and others, India, Turkey, Pakistan, Singapore etc etc

If any have, was it retrofit (most likely) or in the case of recent deliveries - original equipment

PZU - Out of Africa (retired)

23rd Oct 2008, 07:28
'active fuel tank protection'I'd call foam "passive" protection.

In't auld days (50's & 60's) we did have explosion suppression systems in military fuel tanks, but it was dangerous to we poor maintenance fellows who had to enter and work inside the fuel tanks. (Of course, back in those days they didn't hold coroner's inquests on people who were killed in military service.)

I do wonder how one goes about working inside a foam filled fuel tank. Perhaps one doesn't. In which case I wonder what happens when the wing falls off due to corrosion?

23rd Oct 2008, 07:42
Is this regards the RAF Herc that went down in the middle east? I saw the family's coming out of court on the tele all angry blaming the goverment, I can understand them being upset over their loss and no dis-respect to those who lost their lives but surely you know the risks when you join up, it's a war zone after all, ppl get hurt and die.....I'm sure the RAF do all they can but they can't predict every possible situation...blame still has to go to those doing the shooting surely.....

Again no dis-respect to the familys

Flap 5
23rd Oct 2008, 07:50
Yes Merlin but the government decides where they are going to fight and with what equipment. I think someone joining the military has a right to assume their government is going to send them somewhere where they are needed as a direct result of clear and present danger to this country and with the right equipment.

23rd Oct 2008, 10:09
Blacksheep your post reminded me of days crawling inside wing tanks with a bucket of MEK during a check 1V .

I wonder what todays health and safety would make of it now ?

23rd Oct 2008, 10:18
I'm sure I heard a Minister on Radio 2 yesterday telling us all that the Government reacted swiftly and decisively to the initial reports and has already installed "Explosion Fluorescent Foam" wherever it needed to be installed, so that's all OK then.

Had someone dictated his brief to him by telephone?

23rd Oct 2008, 10:26
Which other C-130 users apart from the US has installed 'active fuel tank protection' in their C-130's or equivalent?

Just saw article on nightly news and it seems the RAAF does employ this protection.

23rd Oct 2008, 11:10
I think someone joining the military has a right to assume their government is going to send them somewhere where they are needed as a direct result of clear and present danger to this country and with the right equipment.Hmm. Speaking personally, I never assumed any such thing.

I did hope they would send me somewhere like The Gut or Bugis Street (which they did) where I could meet some interesting local characters, but I was certainly willing to go anywhere they chose, with whatever gear was to hand.

As to inquests on people killed on active service, I wonder when the inquest will be held on poor old Uncle Geoffrey and his 200,000 comrades who went over the top at the Somme and never came back? That might even be him under the flagstone in Westminster Abbey - Gran always hoped it was him.

23rd Oct 2008, 12:38
I think the issue here isn't just about the explosion suppressing foam, or whatever it is, it is about the fact that several years before it was recommended that to enhance the survivability this product should be retrofitted to the Hercules fleet. Then again a couple of years later it was again recommended, and again ignored, it was not until some 6 or 7 years after the original recommendation and subsequent to this entirely unneccessary loss of life that the MOD/RAF finally acted.

The system is not that expensive in military hardware terms and when, being somewhat mercenary, you consider the cost of the training of all those on board that aircraft.

It seems to me that the MOD/RAF were negligent in the extreme and whoever made those decisions should be put in the stocks and pelted with all the rotten fruit we can find!

The same should be done to the people who sent a Chinook, without a winch over a minefield fully knowing the risk of setting off a mine and the supplies department who sent soldiers into combat without the body armour which should by now be part of their personal kit!

24th Oct 2008, 12:57
It seems to me that the MOD/RAF were negligent in the extreme It seems to me that, on the contrary, the MOD were more concerned with weight and range considerations, plus the maintenance implications of filling fuel tanks with foam. Certainly, the foam is light and only reduces tank capacity by a small amount, but risk management is always tricky in an armed service and civilians have little understanding of the differences between civil and military priorities. The C130 has a long history of fuel tank corrosion and quite how one properly inspects the interior of a foam filled fuel tank is an interesting question.

24th Oct 2008, 19:46
With regard to the Chinook minefield incident. The winch argument is not relevant. You want a winch for rescue purposes ... you need a winchman. You cannot just drop a harness and expect someone, under extreme pressure, to put it on properly and safely.

27th Oct 2008, 17:51
I'm sorry but at the end of the day the RAF/MOD got it wrong, maybe it's easy to say that with hindsight, but 2 reports recommending the foams installation should not have been ingnored and 10 brave men might still be alive!

The small difference in range cannot have been that significant in the theatre that this incident took place in, as far as inspecting the tanks for corrosion maybe the foam would actually minimise the risk of corrosion by eliminating the corrosive atmosphere from the area at risk.

With regard to the Chinook incident I accept that a winchman would have been required but the aircraft would not then have needed to operate so close to the ground thereby minimising the risk of setting off a mine.

27th Oct 2008, 18:25
maybe the foam would actually minimise the risk of corrosion by eliminating the corrosive atmosphere from the area at risk.That's a very bold statement that may, or may not, be true, or, indeed the presence of a foam/tank interface might increase corrosion by holding moisture trapped.
Without knowledge of the actual corrosion mechanism it's impossible to guess (IMO).
Formula 1 cars used to have foam in their fuel tanks, but this has since been replaced by 'bladders'.

27th Oct 2008, 18:42
From Fact Sheet - Fuel Tank Safety (http://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets/news_story.cfm?newsId=7318) :-
QUOTE]For 30 years, the world’s experts have said that inerting was too complicated, too heavy, and too expensive for commercial airplanes. FAA scientists and engineers challenged those assumptions and ultimately developed the first prototype inerting system for commercial airplanes.
An inerting system replaces the oxygen in the fuel tank with an inert gas such as nitrogen, preventing the potential ignition of fuel vapor.
Inerting systems have been used on military aircraft since World War II, primarily to minimize combat explosions and damage. Military airplane inerting systems cannot be installed on commercial airplanes. The military does not have to meet the robust safety standards set for commercial airplanes. Military systems are too heavy and too big for commercial airplanes and may operate only a few hours per day or week compared to the average 14 hours per day flown by a commercial airplane.

Many different techniques have been used in the inerting systems on military aircraft. On World War II-era airplanes, engine exhaust was typically used to produce the inert gas. More recently, nitrogen has been used to render the fuel tank inert. Various techniques exist for separating nitrogen from air for use in inerting, the simplest and most reliable being the membrane technology that is used in the FAA prototype inerting system for commercial airplanes.
In May 2002, the FAA unveiled a prototype on-board inerting system that replaces oxygen in the fuel tank with inert gas, which prevents the potential ignition of flammable vapors. ARAC had assumed that bleed air from the engines could not be used, requiring a compressor. The FAA developed a simple, reliable prototype that uses bleed air without a compressor or other moving parts. In addition, FAA research demonstrated that a higher level of oxygen — 12 percent can be used versus the 10 percent used by ARAC. The FAA system installed on a 747SP weighed about 200 pounds compared to the complex inerting systems used by the military that weigh thousands of pounds. It also takes up very little “real estate” on an airplane.
Boeing has since developed its own system, which will be installed on new airplanes rolling off the production lines today. All airplanes designed with a center wing tank are susceptible to flammability risk, including both Airbus and Boeing models.
On November 23, 2005, the FAA proposed a rule that would require more than 3,200 existing and certain new large passenger jets to reduce flammability levels of fuel tank vapors. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) would require aircraft operators to reduce the flammability levels of fuel tank vapors to remove the likelihood of a potential explosion from an ignition source. Fuel tank inerting is the best solution to meeting the news standards outlined in the agency’s proposal.
The FAA’s proposal applies to new large airplane designs. Boeing 737, Boeing 747, and Airbus A320 models would be retrofitted first. The preliminary estimate for the total cost for the U.S. fleet is approximately $808 million over 49 years, including $313 million for retrofitting the existing fleet.[/QUOTE]

C130 Techie
27th Oct 2008, 20:36

The foam is fitted into the tank in sections and can be removed and stored whilst any required maintenance takes place.