Honeywell has been selected by Boeing to develop a nitrogen generation system (NGS) that will greatly reduce the risk of explosion in the centre fuel tanks of 737/747/767/777 aircraft, the company announced at the show today.

Honeywell's NGS is based on new technology and reduces flammability of fuel residue and vapour in fuel tanks by pumping nitrogen-enriched air into the centre fuel tank to displace oxygen, cutting the risk of fire or explosion.

The catastrophic explosion over the Atlantic in 1996 of TWA flight 800, operating a 747-100, sent shockwaves around the aviation world when investigators surmised that a fuel-vapour fire/explosion in the centre-section wing tank was the most likely cause of the accident.


The US Federal Aviation Administration may require all commercial aircraft flying in American airspace to be fitted with NGS to prevent similar accidents. Estimates suggest there may have been three similar accidents over the past 15 years. The adoption of NGS throughout the industry could prevent a further four crashes over the next quarter century.

Although the cost of equipping the world's airliners with NGS was first estimated at up to $20 billion, this figure has now been slashed to around $650 million - or $140,000-$220,000 per aircraft. "With the NGS for Boeing, Honeywell is building on our long tradition of providing innovative safety products for commercial aviation," says Roger Wolfe, vice-president and general manager of airframe systems for Honeywell Engines, Systems & Services.

"We have applied our expertise in thermal management and systems integration to provide a solution that can be adapted for new production aircraft or for retrofit onto existing aircraft."

Honeywell has delivered an NGS test bed to Boeing for ground and flight testing on a 737. In mid-2003, it delivered an NGS test-bed for 747s.

Parker Aerospace is providing the air separation module for the system.


Source: Flight Daily News