Terrorist Inerters Needed
A "breakthrough" discovery
has been claimed by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) investigators looking
for a way to prevent fuel tank explosions. Onboard "inerting" systems have been
tried in the past for reducing the likelihood of explosions, but the weight and
expense of the voluminous nitrogen bottles needed to backfill fuel tanks made such
a system impractical. The breakthrough came while experimenting with just how much,
in terms of a ratio, nitrogen had to be present in the tanks to prevent an explosion.
Surprisingly, an oxygen content of 12% or less is all that is required to virtually
eliminate the possibility of an explosion. Since air is normally composed of 79%
nitrogen, 20% oxygen and 1% traces gasses, the volume of backfill nitrogen is relatively
small, making the systems much more practical. Details are being worked out, but
in the near future the FAA will mandate inerting systems on all commercial airliners.
Now, if we could just develop a practical "terrorist rocket inerter" (ala TWA Flight
800, in 1996)...