Event Details

Title:Cabin explosion and fire during landing roll at Hua-Lien, Taiwan, involving a MD-90-30 on August 24, 2000 (Recommended)
Micro summary:On MD-90 landing, combustible materials combined to create an explosion and fire.
Event Time:2000-08-24 at 0436 UTC
File Name:2000-08-24-TW.pdf
Publishing Agency:Aviation Safety Council (ASC)
Publishing Country:Taiwan
Report number:ASC-AAR-00-11-001
Site of event:Landing roll, runway 21 at Hualien Airport
Departure:Taipei Chiang Kai Shek International Airport, Taiwan
Destination:Hualien Airport, Hualien, Taiwan
Airplane Type(s):McDonnell Douglas MD-90-30
Flight Phase:Landing
Operator(s):UNI Air
Type of flight:Revenue
Serious Injuries:27
Other Injuries:0
Executive Summary:At 12:36 on August 24 1999, local time (04:36 UTC), UNI AIR Flight No. 873 (serving Taipei - Hualien) had just landed and was rolling on Runway 21 at the Hualien Airport, when a explosion was heard in the front section of the passenger cabin, followed by smoke and then fire. The pilot immediately braked, brought the aircraft to a stop on the runway. Then, after lowering the passenger evacuation slides and initiating an emergency passenger evacuation, the pilot proceeded to call the tower for help. Upon receiving this call, fire squads at both the Hualien Airport and the Air Force Wing rushed to the scene to extinguish the fire. The fire was eventually put out at 13:45. While the upper part of the fuselage was completely destroyed, 90 passengers plus the crew of 6 was safely evacuated. Casualties included 14 seriously wounded passengers and another 14 that suffered minor injuries. Most of the wounded passengers suffered burns. Fragments produced by the explosion struck 1 passenger.

Initial findings revealed that factors involved in the accident were not solely related to aviation safety. The local prosecutors in Hua-Lien decided to follow criminal investigative procedures and undertook their investigation at the same time as the Councilís investigating team was proceeding its investigation of the accident. The collection of evidence on the part of the prosecutors was thorough, and testing of this evidence was complete and detailed. Analytical tests done of one item of evidence, a ruptured bleach bottle, has been of much benefit to the progress of the investigation. Items of evidence suspected of contributing to the explosion, a motorcycle battery as well as explosion remaining, were sent to the Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology (CSIST) for simulation experiments. The results of these experiments confirm a leak in a plastic bottle containing gasoline resulted in the evaporation of gasoline fumes in the air, when the vapor concentration reaches the lower limit of explosion, the spark energy generated by the 12V motorcycle battery in instant short circuit would be capable of triggering explosion

Probable cause to the accident
A flammable liquid (gasoline) inside bleach and softener bottles and sealed with silicone was carried on board the aircraft. A combustible vapor formed as the leaking gasoline filled the stowage bin, and the impact of the landing aircraft created a short in a battery. The short ignited the gasoline vapor and created the explosion.
Learning Keywords:Operations - Bang, pop, crack, sizzle!
Operations - Cabin or Cockpit Smoke
Operations - Evacuation
Operations - Terrorism/Violence
Consequence - Hull Loss


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