Video has emerged of the fire suppression system in American Airlines hangar at Chicago O’Hare International Airport malfunctioning causing two aircraft to be covered by fire suppressant foam.
Two American Airlines Boeing 787s, registration unknown, were parked at the hangar. It is unclear if any additional aircraft were in the hangar at the same time.
A source said that the automated fire suppression system was activated by accident.
The post from Adrian Thomas translates to: “Foam night in an American Airlines maintenance hangar! The fire-fighting system unexpectedly activated and sprayed foam on Boeing 787s.”
The video shows the foam flowing from the ceiling covering the planes and equipment in the hanger. While people are present, it appears none are directly being covered with the foam. The height of the foam reaches the underside of the aircraft and can be seen slowly filling the hanger.
American confirmed that there was no damage and no injuries to any employees. The malfunction, however, would have left a huge amount of cleaning to be done.
A fire suppression system is mandatory in maintenance hangars; it can fill the hanger in minutes and prevents a fire from spreading to any aircraft, also minimising any damage to the building itself.
This incident could be very expensive for American Airlines. Fire retardant foam, like the one in the images, is highly corrosive to an aircraft; this is due to the chemical components that help extinguish the flames. All the parts affected by the foam need to be carefully analysed and then cleaned.
A similar event occurred earlier this month in a British Airways hangar.
In the past, aircraft engineers have been seriously injured when hangar fire suppression systems have activated. In one case, a member of airline staff was killed.