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Poor training worsened B-2 fire damage

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posted on Mar, 26 2014 @ 09:56 AM
On 26 Feb, 2010 a serious fire on board B-2 88-0332, the Spirit of Washington occurred while the aircraft was at Anderson Air Base on Guam. The damage from the fire resulted in the aircraft requiring 18 months of repairs, just to be able to fly it back to the US Mainland, where it underwent another 2 years of repairs and upgrades before being returned to service in 2013.

The AIB report, released recently, stated that the fire was caused when the crew shut down #1 engine due to the generator not integrating. A few minutes later they attempted to restart the engine using bleed air from the #2 engine (which is how it's normally done). During the restart attempt, there was a reverse airflow condition where the bleed air from #2 pulled fuel into the engine bay of #1, prior to ignition (again, it happens on the B-2, usually harmlessly). There was a slight delay in the ignition (common), before the crew chief saw a flash, and the engine started. In this instance however, unknown to the crew and the crew chief, the E-foam in the engine bay ignited.

The generator still wouldn't integrate, so the crew shut the engine down again. Shortly after the crew chief saw flame, and smelled smoke and called for the crew to egress the aircraft. The crew shut the other three engines down, and egressed safely. The fire got so hot (1,000 degrees) that a hydraulic line ruptured, and flammable hydraulic fluid spilled onto the fire, and spread into the upper engine bay. The ground crew began fighting the fire with the halon bottles, and expended four of them into the engine.

The first fire truck arrived within the five minute limit, and began attacking the fire. They only sprayed 1,500 gallons of the 34,000 gallons of suppressant into the engine exhaust. The fire chief said later that he was unaware of the tailpipe bay, or that fire could exist in it. They were also unaware (as were the SMEs they used) of the fire punch through areas that led to the engine they could have used to fight the fire.

Both the #1 and #2 engine suffered damage from the fire (the fighting of it, not the fire itself), the #1 engine bay suffered extensive damage, and portions of the #2 bay suffered damage resulting from the heat of the fire.

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