The specific mission was to identify the conditions of atmospheric pressure and ambient temperature under which a so-called empty-Boeing model 747-131 fixed wing jet aircraft center wing tank (CWT), containing a residual fuel loading of about 3 kg/m3, less than 100 gallons of aviation kerosene (JetA Athens refinery commercial jet fuel), could form hazardous air/fuel mixtures. The issues are limited to explosion safety concerns relating to certificated fixed wing jet aircraft in regularly scheduled commercial passenger service. It is certain that a combustible mixture does not exist in a fuel tank containing Jet-A type fuel at ambient temperatures below 38°C (100°F), which is the lean limit flash point (LFP) for commercial jet fuel at sea level. Never the less, although not included in this paper, the original study reported by Wyczalek and Suh (1997), identified six highly unlikely, but rationally possible critical conditions which can occur in a combination which may permit a combustible mixture to exist within a jet aircraft fuel tank and pose a potential hazard.

The scope of this paper is limited to mathematical modeling concerns related to fixed wing jet aircraft fuel tanks and commercial jet fuels combustible air-fuel mixture ratios. It was further limited to a historical review of the scientific literature in the public domain from 1950 to the present time, which defined the thermodynamic and minimum ignition energy properties of aviation gasoline and commercial jet fuels; and, to comparisons with new thermodynamic data for JetA Athens flight test samples, released by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) during public hearings on the TWA800 event in Baltimore, Maryland in December 1997. The original work reported by Wyczalek and Suh (1997) conclusively demonstrated that the USAF Wright Air Development Center and the US Bureau of Mines conducted and published comprehensive evaluations of the potential hazards relating to jet aircraft fuel tanks as early as 1952. This historical scientific data and the mathematical models for the new jetA and Athens refinery jetA in this paper, are relevant to pending TWA800 related litigation, and to the future implementation of NTSB recommendations resulting from the TWA800 event.

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