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Test Evaluation of the C-5A Emergency Oxygen Generator as a Possible Causative Agent of Fires

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Final rept.

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A fire occurred in an aircraft equipment storage depot at Travis AFB, California on 17 August 1973. Post-fire investigations resulted in the tentative conclusion that the fire was caused either by arson or malfunction of C-5A emergency oxygen generators stored in the depot at the time. The Air Force Office of Special Investigation AFOSI was assigned the responsibility of conducting a complete investigation to determine the cause of the fire. The investigation included a thorough evaluation of the C-5A emergency oxygen generator while operating under normal and abnormal conditions. Since the C-5A oxygen generator is a chlorate candle solid state device, the AFOSI requested the Environmental Control Branch of the Air Force Flight Dynamics Laboratory to conduct the experimental test program on the oxygen generator. AFOSI delivered approximately forty complete unfired generators and large quantities of fire debris to AFFDL at the initiation of the program. Discussions were subsequently held between AFFDL and other interested personnel in order to prepare a meaningful test plan. The plan agreed upon included eleven different types of tests. Most of the tests concerned the capability of the oxygen generator to self-actuate and then ignite adjacent combustible material while in storage. The remaining tests centered on gathering performance data on the generator and accessory material ignition temperatures in oxygen laden atmospheres. A final test was conducted around a reproduction of the conditions of the fire at Travis. One of six generators packaged in a carton was actuated after being placed within a large crate. The generator was set on fire and the developing fire pattern in the crate was observed and noted. The overall conclusion derived from the testing was that the oxygen generator could not have self-actuated and caused the fire.

Subject Categories:

  • Safety Engineering
  • Military Aircraft Operations

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