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JTSB issues report on China Airlines Boeing 737-800 fuel leak and ground fire
28 August 2009

On August 20, 2007, a Boeing 737-800 operated by China Airlines took off from Taiwan-Taoyuan International Airport on a flight to Naha Airport, Japan. At about 10:33, immediately after the aircraft stopped, fuel that was leaking from the fuel tank on the right wing caught fire and the aircraft was engulfed in flames. Everyone on board was evacuated from the
aircraft and there were no dead and wounded. The aircraft was destroyed by fire.
The Japan Transport Safety Board concluded:
“It is considered highly probable that this accident occurred through the following causal chain: When the Aircraft retracted the slats after landing at Naha Airport, the track can that housed the inboard main track of the No. 5 slat on the right wing was punctured, creating a hole. Fuel leaked out through the hole, reaching the outside of the wing. A fire started when the leaked fuel came into contact with high-temperature areas on the right engine after the Aircraft stopped in its assigned spot, and the Aircraft burned out after several explosions.
With regard to the cause of the puncture in the track can, it is certain that the downstop assembly having detached from the aft end of the above-mentioned inboard main track fell off into the track can, and when the slat was retracted, the assembly was pressed by the track against the track can and punctured it.
With regard to the cause of the detachment of the downstop assembly, it is considered highly probable that during the maintenance works for preventing the nut from loosening, which the Company carried out on the downstop assembly about one and a half months prior to the accident based on the Service Letter from the manufacturer of the Aircraft, the washer on the nut side of the assembly fell off, following which the downstop on the nut side of the assembly fell off and then the downstop assembly eventually fell off the track. It is considered highly probable that a factor contributing to the detachment of the downstop assembly was the design of the downstop assembly, which was unable to prevent the assembly from falling off if the washer is not installed.
With regard to the detachment of the washer, it is considered probable that the following factors contributed to this: Despite the fact that the nut was in a location difficult to access during the maintenance works, neither the manufacturer of the Aircraft nor the Company had paid sufficient attention to this when preparing the Service Letter and Engineering Order job card, respectively. Also, neither the maintenance operator nor the job supervisor reported the difficulty of the job to the one who had ordered the job.” (JTSB)