Longest flight by burning plane

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14 years 3 months

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What is the longest time any aircraft has flown while on fire? There are several notorious disasters from planes that caught fire. Swissair MD-11, which crashed in 25 minutes or so. Saudia Tristar. Manchester B-737 which burnt on runway. Some B747 crashing in Indian Ocean... All of those were doomed in a few minutes. Is it the general rule that any plane that catches fire crashes in less than half an hour, unless it happens to be near an airport and land in less than half an hour? And does it follow that any aircraft farther than 30 minutes from a diversion that catches fire has no chance at all?
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Profile picture for user andrewm

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19 years 10 months

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Wouldnt it depend on where the fire is? As for example ETOPS aircraft have 90 minutes of fire surpression for Cargo and Baggage holds dont they? Also i thinK WYS mentioned that 2 engine aircraft have longer fire supression or something?

Member for

14 years 3 months

Posts: 1,101

Wouldnt it depend on where the fire is? As for example ETOPS aircraft have 90 minutes of fire surpression for Cargo and Baggage holds dont they? Also i thinK WYS mentioned that 2 engine aircraft have longer fire supression or something?
Well, has the fire suppression ever actually worked? I mean, no one hears of fires which did not break out at all, but is there any known incident where a plane actually caught fire and the fire suppression worked for more than 90 minutes before the plane landed safely?
Profile picture for user andrewm

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19 years 10 months

Posts: 4,213

Maybe our Long Haul "crew" would be best to answer this given mainly talking about B747 A340 etc... All i heard was someone let a canister go in Cargo hold once and it was bye bye to the dog in there!
Profile picture for user Whiskey Delta

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16 years 5 months

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Well, has the fire suppression ever actually worked? I mean, no one hears of fires which did not break out at all, but is there any known incident where a plane actually caught fire and the fire suppression worked for more than 90 minutes before the plane landed safely?
Chances are if it did happen you or I wouldn't hear about it because it didn't end with a smoking hole in the ground. We all know the media loves a good tragidy.
Profile picture for user Moggy C

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19 years 10 months

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And does it follow that any aircraft farther than 30 minutes from a diversion that catches fire has no chance at all?
Not totally the answer you are looking for I guess, but if you go back to WW2 there are many incidents of aircraft catching fire over Germany and returning to the UK at a steady 200 knots or so, Moggy
Profile picture for user Hugh Jarse

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14 years 9 months

Posts: 192

I think the worst case scenariois the Swiss Air with the fire being in an area where it wasn't possible to get fire supressant to. The whole idea of ETOPs is that the aircraft is able to carry out a diversion from the ETOPSs rule distance in the case of many problems including a fire in the hold. The B767 has 2 fire bottles for the holds. On a fire indication the first bottle is discharged. 80 minutes later (or on final approach, whichever is later) the second bottle is discharged. Both bottles have a measured discharge rate to ensure the fire protection for the full ETOPs 180mins. The extinguishant is highly toxic and therefore any livestock in the hold would not survive. As WD mentioned, most cases are not reported in the media unless it is a smoking hole. I can assure you these things do occur but unless you are reading the incident reporting books of all the authorities around the world, you won't see them. If we do get an uncontrolled fire we can get the aircraft on the ground from cruise levels in 12 minutes. I have had a sim detail where we did exactly this and it works.