Associated Retired Aviation Professionals

Fuel Tank Explosiveness

Dear Sir

For a ten year period, from the mid-eighties to the mid-nineties, I removed about 70 underground fuel tanks from service.  I'm very much familiar with explosive atmospheres in fuel tanks, and I can say most definitely that an internal source of ignition did not cause the explosion.

The center fuel tank being full would present a rich atmosphere that will not ignite no matter how much source of ignition is present.  A tank will not explode if the inside atmosphere is to lean (not enough fuel vapors), or to rich (a lot of fuel vapors).  The inside atmosphere must in the middle danger range with oxygen present to explode.

The airliner sat on the runway for two hours with the AC running.  This situation caused the fuel to heat up and release vapors that pushed out any oxygen through the vents to the outside.  The inside tank atmosphere was too rich to ignite no matter how much spark was present.

Put it all together and it appears to be a shoulder launched stinger missile smuggled in from Afghanistan that destroyed TWA800.

Yours Truly

James Ashworth
Tampa, Florida
formerly of NJ
Certified by the state of NJ to remove underground storage tanks


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