Crash and burn... or just crash?

jtresfon

Newbie
Joined
Oct 12, 2010
Messages
13
Location
Cape Town
Following a very recent accident at our flying club I thought I'd resurrect an old but still pertinent issue... post crash fires and poor fuel tank design and/or construction. I don't want to turn this into a specific make/model bashing thread but hopefully more of a warning and/or learning tool.

20200115_121552 edit SMALL.jpg
The gyro just a few minutes after the crash. Note the stains on the ground from the fuel run-off.

Yesterday a student pilot was doing solo circuit training, and towards the end of the hour his landings started to get worse as he got progressively more tired. His instructor recognised this and told him to call it a day while he was on the downwind leg. On final approach he flared while still way too high, ran out of ideas and tried to add power with the nose pointing way up and literally fell out of the sky, with the gyro bouncing hard on the runway and rolling onto its right hand side.

20200115_121612 edit SMALL.jpg
This image shows the final resting position relative to the runway.

Luckily the student was able to walk away with relatively minor injuries. The gyro is a complete write-off. But it could have been so much worse. During the impact the mast was bent backwards and somehow tore the entire top of the 72lt fuel tank right off. As the gyro went over about 50lt of fuel poured onto both the ground and the student in seconds, who was unable to free himself as he lay there soaked in fuel. Luckily for him the gyro landed right side down with the hot turbo on the other side pointing at the sky. Had the gyro bounced onto its left side with the hot turbo under the gushing fuel tank things might have been very different. He may well have burnt
to death after surviving the crash impact.

20200115_130640 edit SMALL.jpg
The entire top of the fuel tank was ripped off as the mast bent backwards.

This particular gyro has a rigid fibreglass tank with no "give" or flexibility. Other makes have softer plastic tanks which rupture less easily. But the fact remains that post impact fires are a very real issue for us gyro pilots. Other than wearing fire resistant flight suits (which most of us don't really do, especially in very warm climates) there must be a better way to prevent this from happening. Surely the technology is out there for the bigger manufacturers to embrace. Not sure what the answer is... Bladders inside the tanks? Would be interest to know if any have solved this problem. I've got plenty of gyro hours and hardly ever give this a thought, until I witnessed this accident.

20200115_121700 edit SMALL.jpg
Another view showing the ground still soaked in fuel, especially in and around the cockpit.

Would welcome thoughts from anyone who has expertise in this area...

Regards
Jean.
 

DarDow101

Dar
Joined
Jun 11, 2017
Messages
63
Location
Utah
I gave this particular subject a LOT of thought and this is the solution for my gyro, of which uses a 14 gal. seat tank.
It may or may not work well but at least it gives me a chance at survival.


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Greg Vos

Newbie
Joined
May 26, 2019
Messages
57
Location
Cape Town
Aircraft
R44/22 H269/300 MD 500 Magni (all); Xenon RST; DTA; ELA; MTO
Total Flight Time
2480 odd (1300 gyro hours & counting)
Glad the pilot is ok, I know that in the Robbies they retrofit a bladder.
i would think it’s more of numbers or compensation game and robinson was forced to do it, with the gyro market under pressure and even ( I have been told Auto Gyro battling) there is no budget or incentive? I’m certain if it was made mandatory by some caa or Faa some clever man would develop it.
 

jm-urbani

Junior Member
Joined
Dec 21, 2010
Messages
478
Location
French Riviera
Aircraft
home built mono seat
Total Flight Time
200ish
Gyroplane is sold as a hobbie, but this when comes the time of taking off and landing , for a few minutes it is a high level sport
 
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DavePA11

Active Member
Joined
Nov 16, 2015
Messages
388
Location
Northborough
I would recommend adding fuel bladders as used by Robinson Helicopter or with auto racing.

Add up all the fires that occur with the gyro accidents, and its very high.

This was a concern of mine when I purchased my gyro since it used grommets for fuel level line and fuel vent which would easily pop out on impact causing fuel to spray. Surprised Magni doesn't change this part of their design since its the same with the M-24.

I think the metal tanks help too.

DarDow - if the top of the tank is pulled off I don't think the DetoStop would help.

Dave
 
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DarDow101

Dar
Joined
Jun 11, 2017
Messages
63
Location
Utah
DarDow - if the top of the tank is pulled off I don't think the DetoStop wouldn't help.

Dave
[/QUOTE]


My seat tank is thick plastic so it's not likely to get pulled apart. Ruptured maybe but likely would survive a strong impact in which case I'd likely not survive the impact myself if it is hard enough to rupture the seat tank. More concerned with a low speed , low level hard landing tip over incident. I have enough burn scares on my body from motorcycle incidents and just trying to keep the rest of my hide til that final day!
 
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