posted on Sep, 22 2005 @ 07:37 PM
There have been a number of accidents involving the ignition of vapours in aircraft fuel tanks. Airplanes generate large amounts of entropy when in
service. There is an uncontrolled risk of an explosion. For a tank, the entropy density does not go on increasing forever. There is a maximum entropy.
Above this maximal entropy the entropy is again zero and the energy density increases toward maximum. This condition (false vacuum) can easily be met
in a fuel tank ullage before an explosion. This scenario leads to an explosion, when the false vacuum state finally ends. The explosion is a complete
surprise to the crew.
While the accident airplane was being fueled at JFK the fuel system's automatic VSO (volumetric shutoff) activated due to fuel weathering before the
fuel tanks were full. A mechanic "overode" the safety system and finished fueling manually.
Conclusion: the vents of the fuel tanks were closed and left closed.
The flight was delayed because of fuel weathering. Official: a disabled piece of ground equipment (a fleet service vehicle was blocking the accident
airplane at the gate) and concerns about a suspected passenger/baggage mismatch (the missing passenger was on board the whole time).
The TWA 800 arrow of time.
1. Refueling, fuel weathering due to entropy, long wait for the stabilization of fuel.
2. Due to permanent fuel weathering the vents at the Main Tank № 4 and Reserve Tank № 4 were left closed.
3. time about 20:19 - The airplane became airborne.
4. time 20:25:41 - Boston ARTCC: "TWA 800 climb and maintain [19,000 feet] and expedite trough [15,000 feet]."
5. time 20:27:47 - The airplane reached its assignated altitude.
- Fuel weathering.
- Reserve Tank № 1, Main Tank № 1, Main Tank № 2, Main Tank № 3 overfilled, streak of light.
- Reserve Tank № 4 overpressured, decay of the false vacuum.
- Right wing on fire, Main Tank № 4 overheated and overpressured.
6. time 20:29:15 - The captain: "Look at that crazy fuel flow indicator there on number four . . . see that?"
7. time about 20:30 - Main Tank № 4 overpressured, in the Main Tanks № 1, № 2 and № 3 fuel weathering, engines № 1, № 2 and № 3 power
- Lose height.
- Fuel leak from the Reserve Tank № 4 penetrated the fuselage.
8. time 20:30:15 - Boston ARTCC: "TWA800 climb and maintain [15,000 feet].”
- The captain: "climb thrust!"
9. time 20:30:25 - The captain: "climb thrust!"
10. time 20:30:35 - The flight engineer: "power's set!" (on fire?)
11.time 20:30:42 - Movement in the cockpit. Decay of the false vacuum in the CWT, explosion.
- The CVR recorded a "very loud sound".
12. time 20:31:12 - The CVR recording ended.
Almost ten years after the crash, many people still have questions about what caused this tragedy. Thus aviation engineering cannot abolish the
entropy law and arrow of time.