Here is a question for all airlines and aircraft manufacturers around the world.
Is there any way to find out the condition of the internal of the airplane’s fuel tanks?
Well, in case there is any, I have not heard of it yet.
Lufthansa Technik AG wants to built a measuring technology whereby one can inspect the aircraft tanks reliably and find out if there is any critical infestation.
So, what triggered Lufthansa Technik AG to work on this matter?
It was discovered that the rate at which biofilm is formed in the aircraft fuel tanks has been on the rise steadily for several years.
How does this Biofilm form?
Secretions from microbes result in Biofilm and these microbes have the capability to increase their population pretty rapidly, provided some unique circumstances.
Now the next question is how do these microorganisms get in?
Well, these microscopic organisms get into aircraft tanks either through air vents on the wings or through clothes and respiration of mechanics when the fuel tanks are cleaned.
The process of condensation in the tanks provides a suitable atmosphere for microbes to reproduce at a rapid rate.
Are microbes dangerous to flying?
According to Ralf Reimann, Coordinator in Lufthansa Technik’s VIP & Special Mission Aircraft Services division – the biofilm that is created by these microbes is not just a visual pollution. It can also result in considerable damage to the aircraft as well.
Some of the ill effects of these microbes are –
- They can enter the smallest cracks
- They can attack the aluminum alloy
- They can result in corrosion on the wings
Here is what Dr. Christian Siry, Head of Central Materials Technology at Lufthansa Technik has to say about microbes in aircraft fuel tanks – the effect can be extremely negative of the overall operation of a flight.
It can bring in unplanned ground time and the money required to remove this problem can be huge.
The corrosion than can result because of this will lead to aircraft being grounded for several weeks. I am sure no airline would want this to happen.
How the problem from microbes is getting worse?
Microbes are becoming resistant to biocides and there has been a change in the population of microbes in aircraft fuel tanks as well.
The methods that are been used till now to identify and eliminate them are no longer effective.
This has created the need to inspect the aircraft fuel tanks on a regular basis. Above all, there is a need to change the way these checks are done.