Saturday, 14 April 2007 21:25
Hello Capt Lim,
I recently read that the European Aviation Safety Board concluded that certain Airbus planes needed to install a safety shield in the center fuel tank area to ensure that they do not experience a similar fate of the TWA flight 800.
I am scheduled to fly an Airbus A340-300 plane from Washington to Munich in the next few weeks and I am nervous.
What can you tell me about this finding? Is Lufthansa reliable in following safety guidelines? Is flying out of DC in January less of a risk due to much lower usage of air conditioning components?
Please help alleviate my concerns...
The TWA 800 fuel tank explosion tragedy has made the NTSB in the USA to require European regulators to take safety measures to prevent a possible fuel-tank explosion again.
The problem with those tanks is that on most of the Airbus planes, the air conditioning units, known as packs, are directly below the tank. The packs give off heat that can raise the temperature of fuel vapors in the tank to potentially explosive levels.
On the TWA Flight 800, the air conditioners under the 747*s giant center wing tank ran for a couple of hours on a hot day at Kennedy airport before the plane took off. And the tank had little fuel in it, which meant it was filled with vapors which may have contributed to the mid air explosion.
But Airbus argues that its jets are designed with a ventilation system that helps cool the heated air given off by the air-conditioning packs under the center wing tank. (The Airbus A380 does not have center tanks anyway)
However, FAA says as far as it is concerned, Airbus planes run the same risk of a fuel-tank explosion, even though that risk may be very small.
For more on this, please read my answers to a similar question here "Should I fly the Airbus A340 or Boeing 777?"
Yes, Lufthansa is a reliable airline and its safety record is among the best in Europe. Please read more about it in my site on safety here.
For your information the air conditioning units or packs on all airplanes are always selected on regardless of whether you fly in winter (January) or summer.
Enjoy your flight on the Airbus A340. It is a safe and reliable plane! :-)