The FAA has approved AerSale’s fuel tank ignition mitigation solution for Boeing 767 aircraft. The AerSafe solution just received a supplemental type certificate (STC) in compliance with the Fuel Tank Flammability Reduction rule (FTFR), which joins the system’s already existing approvals for 737 Classic and NG series.
As one of the few FAA-approved options available to comply with the FTFR rule, AerSafe limits the amount of available oxygen that can ignite fuel vapors through custom-designed foam blocks installed within the fuel tank, which prevents sparks from igniting an explosion. To produce the system, AerSale scans an aircraft’s fuel tank to get its exact geometry, creates a computer model, and then cuts and contours the foam pieces to accommodate elements such as fittings and hydraulic lines. Once the system is ready, AerSale uses modeling to slice the foam blocks into pieces that can easily be slid into the fuel tank.
According to Basil Barimo, COO of AerSale, the system’s advantage is its ease of installation, since it does not require any infrastructure or special equipment around the aircraft—it simply requires access to the fuel tank. Barimo says all customers so far have opted to have AerSale perform the installation of the AerSafe system, which has a six-day window and is included in the price. The company will either send a team and a prefabricated kit to a customer’s facilities to perform the installation on site or install the system at AerSale’s facilities in Roswell, New Mexico or Goodyear, Arizona. Once installation is complete, the system requires no maintenance or spare parts.
Barimo says AerSafe is a solution that works well to fill the gap on aircraft that may be short-lived in a fleet or transitioning aircraft that were not delivered with a nitrogen-generation system installed. “To take an [older] airplane like that, it really doesn’t make sense to invest in the nitrogen-generating system, especially if the airplane isn’t going to be out there for 10 more years,” says Barimo. “You’re really better off using a solution like this that is easy to install and fast. The beauty of it is you can take it out of one airplane and put it in another.” As an example, Barimo says AerSafe could be removed from one 737-800 and installed in another—pending some paperwork—since the physical kit is transferrable.
While prices for AerSafe vary based on the size of the aircraft and quantity ordered, Barimo says the system is essentially one-quarter of the cost of a nitrogen-generating system over the life of an aircraft once maintenance and initial acquisition are factored in. Sales of AerSafe thus far have been good and the company has a limited number of kits available for immediate installation. The lead time for larger orders of AerSafe is 60 days—which AerSale says is still significantly shorter than the one-year lead time for a nitrogen-inerting system.
AerSale is now shifting its focus to the Airbus A320. Barimo says AerSale is doing the fit checks on the A320 and expects the system for that aircraft to come out within the next month or so.