On September 2, 2006 a 37 year old reconnaissance aircraft, an RAF Nimrod, exploded shortly after an air-to-air refueling above Kandahar, Afghanistan. On board were 14 men, all of whom died in a ball of fire as the aircraft exploded shortly after the refueling. Apparently there was a lack of communication with aircraft engineers about the increase in fuel leaks on the aircraft before the accident. Nimrod aircraft first entered service in 1969, and were well beyond its sell by date. Wing Commander Bromehead told a hearing that he believed the tragedy was the result of fuel leaking into a dry aircraft bay and igniting as it contacted a hot air pipe. He also said that there had been a serious dilution of skills and experience among the RAF engineering corps which made it more likely that problems with aircraft could be missed. The Wing Commander also stated that he had not been told about the increase in fuel leaks aboard Nimrod aircraft in the months preceding the accident.
This incident reminds us all that inspecting our aircraft on a regular basis and reporting problems is important to the continued safety of air crews operating the aircraft. Fuel leaks, even small and seemingly insignificant ones, should be addressed immediately before they develop into major fuel leaks. The pilot in command must insist that all safety problems with the aircraft be corrected before taking to the air. Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch! JetAviator7