Accident Investigation Thesis

Pages: 9 (2478 words)  ·  Style: APA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Transportation

Fire

Aircraft Accidents involving fires are quite commonplace and destructive. For this reason there must be special care given to the manner in which these accidents are investigated. The purpose of this discussion is to examine the ways in which fires make the reporting an investigating of accidents problematic in incidents involving aircraft. Indeed, Fire is a deadly factor in accident investigation, whether it be the cause of the accident or a result from the accident, understanding fire chemistry can open up ways to save more lives from fires in aircraft accidents.

Federal Agencies

There are several federal and privates agencies that are charged with investigating aircraft crashes. Theses agencies include the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT). All of these organizations serve different roles in insuring that aircraft accidents are properly investigated. They all play varying roles. For instance, the NTSB is responsible for determining the cause of all aviation accidents that occur in the United States. The NTSB is also responsible for determining the cause of all aviation accidents involving public-use aircraft accidents. In addition,

"The NTSB is responsible for maintaining the government's database of civil aviation accidents and also conducts special studies of transportation safety issues of national significance. The NTSB provides investigators to serve as U.S.

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Accredited Representatives as specified in international treaties for aviation accidents overseas involving U.S.-registered aircraft, or involving aircraft or major components of U.S. manufacture ("History and Mission")."

Thesis on Accident Investigation Assignment

The FAA is responsible for ensuring that aircraft is following the appropriate safety standards in an effort to avoid crashes. The NFPA exist to provide guidelines for fire and explosion investigations. These guideline are used by facilities that train individuals that investigate aircraft accidents involving fire and explosions. All of these organizations work together in tandem to ensure that aircrafts are as safe as possible and that when accidents do occur they are properly investigated. The ability to investigate aircraft accidents appropriate is important because it teaches engineers, instructors and the Aviation industry how to better design airplanes so that accidents can be avoided in the future.

Accident Reports

After an aircraft incident has taken place, investigators have a limited time period to compile a report. The time frame is needed because all of the aforementioned organizations want to make certain that the crash was not caused by a particular default in the plane that crashed. If a particular model is defective this information needs to be made public as quickly as possible so that those particular models can be grounded. Indeed the investigative teem has a unique responsibility. According to "The mission of the investigative team is to produce an interim report within four to eight weeks that will be sent to all the interested parties for their comments.

Safety recommendations are always given priority, so that any changes can be put into place as soon as possible. A final report will appear some time after the investigation and will be published on the website of the investigative organization. This final report includes all the factual information collected in the course of the investigation, an analysis of the information, and a conclusion which

gives the cause of the accident or incident and any safety recommendations arising ("Aircraft Accident Investigations") ."

In addition to the analysis of the flight data recorders in audio laboratories, there are also many other elements involved in determining what occurred before during and after a plane crash. An article entitled "Aircraft Accident Investigations" the black box data is the examined in tandem with other pieces of evidence. This additional evidence includes wreckage analysis, ground-based radar recorders, and eye-witness reports ("Aircraft Accident Investigations" ). Additionally, investigators use technology to produce advanced computer graphics ("Aircraft Accident Investigations" ). These graphics are then used to reconstruct the sequence of events associated with the aircraft accident ("Aircraft Accident Investigations" ).

It is obvious that there are many elements that are needed to ensure that the proper report is produced. However many of these elements can be destroyed if the plan explodes are catches on fire. Because this is the case, a certain amount of knowledge about fire is needed.

Fires and Airplane Accidents

In recent months there have been several major airplane incidents involving both commercial airplanes and military aircraft. One of the most infamous airplane accidents came in the beginning of the year when U.S. Airways Flight 1549 an Airbus A320 landed in the Hudson River shortly after take off. In this instance all 155 passengers survived and there was no fire.

However other aircraft accidents have been far more tragic in recent years. For instance, February of 2009 a Colgan Air flight involving a Bombardier DHC-8 airplane crashed when the de-icing mechanism either failed or was not properly implemented. In this case the crash resulted in a fire and killed all 54 passengers and one person on the ground (Wald & Robbin, 2009). The fire did pose some issues for investigators attempting to determine the cause of the crash. One of the primary reasons why fires pose a problem is because of the time required to reconstruct the scene of the crash. First fire fights and first responders must look for survivors and attempt to extinguish the fire as quickly as possible. This is particularly true when a crash occurs in a residential area. In some cases it can take a great deal of time to such a fire under control. This difficulty occurs because aircraft fires involve jet fuel which is flammable and can make is difficult to extinguish the fire. The longer the fire burns the more damage is done. This damage makes it difficult for investigators to determine why the flight crashed.

Fires slow down the investigative process because they make it difficult for investigators to answer several important questions. These questions include the speed at which the aircraft was traveling; the altitude at which the plane lost control or; whether or not the pilot attempted to correct the planes trajectory prior to impact. Of the these issue are important to determining the cause of an airplane crash.

Although the fire caused by the crash made it more difficult to answer these questions, investigators were able to reconstruct the scene an determine what happened to the aircraft. However recovery of the flight data recorder (black box) was critical in assisting investigators immensely in discovering just what caused the plane to crash. Indeed flight data recorders were designed with crash investigation in mind. More specifically the recorders were designed to withstand the intensity of fire so that investigators would be able to determine why the crash occurred in instances where fire had done a great deal of damage.

Air Craft Fires and Fire Chemistry

Air Craft fires are common particularly after crashes. The likelihood of a fire occurring after a crash can greatly impact the manner in which the fire is investigated. For this reason special training is needed for those who investigate aircraft crashes. According to the Southern California Safety Institute there are several scenarios in which fires can occur. The institute explains

"Fire can either be a cause of an aircraft accident or incident or result from it.

Fires occur in engines, engine bays, cabins, cargo holds, wheel wells and fuel tanks. Despite the fact that in-flight fire events are relatively rare, post-impact fires are not. Even when there is no evidence of an in-flight fire or reason to suspect one, the post impact fire can destroy a lot of evidence related to aircraft systems and structure. For this reason, some knowledge of how materials behave in the presence of fire is useful to the aircraft accident investigator ("Fire and Explosion Investigation")."

This statement is evidence that investigators will have a greater capacity to investigate aircraft crashes if they understand certain factors.

The most elementary factor that these individual understand is the chemistry of fire.

The Chemistry of Fire

The picture on the left depicts the three elements that fire is compose of. According to the USDA Fire Service fire is synonymous with combustion. Combustion can be defined as "a rapid oxidation that is accompanied by high temperature and usually light ("The Role of Chemistry in Fire Management")." Oxidation is a chemical reaction that occurs when substances are combined with oxygen. Oxidation creates a great deal of energy.("The Role of Chemistry in Fire Management")

There are different types of fires that can occur, but all are composed of the aforementioned elements. The type of fire that occurs is heavily dependent on the type of fuel that is involved. A fire involving oil may have a different intensity than a fire in which the fuel is wood. For the purpose of this discussion we will concentrate on fire that involve jet fuel, electricity and the fuselage because these are types of fires that often occur with airplane incidents.

According to Popular Mechanics Jet fuel burns at 800° to 1500°F temperatures this high do a great… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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