Turbine jet catches on fire in flight!

May 01, 2012 22 Comments by

In this video taken at a New Zealand RC event, an A-10 turbine-powered jet catches fire while in flight! Excellent pilot skills and quick thinking get the plane down safely, and the ground crew’s quick work with fire extinguishers saves the model from further damage (thanks to Xjet for the YouTube video). So here’s this¬†week’s question: are turbine jets the ultimate in RC flight or too complicated and dangerous for most pilots and fields? Tell us what you think.

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22 Responses to “Turbine jet catches on fire in flight!”

  1. Toyrme says:

    Report news. Not year old video from xjet’s great youtube channel. Hey next go back 5 years and show us the B52 that crashed… Idiot….

    • Francis Curzon says:

      Having deciphered your message, I hadn’t seen the video before and enjoyed it, but there again I spend my spare time building and flying models, not glued to the computer – suppose this makes me an idiot.
      Ex Scale Editor , RCMNews.

    • matt says:

      Go back to youtube with that attitude sonny. This isnt the place to work out teen angst.

  2. Mat B says:

    Excellent video & alert safety crew. I would love to own one of these but just way too rich for my pocket book. Besides every plane has that hidden expiration date & I’d cry like a baby if I lost my $10,000-$20,000 plane for any reason.

    I appreciate & admire those who invest, fly & delight us with these incredible planes. Now if I could just win the lottery….

  3. Todd Breda says:

    Wow, stay classy there Toyrme…

    As for the topic, I have no problem with that class of RC…The pilots/builders/spectators are all aware of the risk involved with these high-priced, high-end models.

    I probably will never have that kind of money to spend on an RC aircraft. I have a hard enough time if I destroy a PNP foam warbird that only cost $450 bucks and 2 hours of build time. I can’t even fathom how I would feel watching my $25K, 10,000 hour build go up in flames.

    To each their own. I say if they have the money and time investment and understand the risks, have at it! It’s extremely fun to watch!

  4. Len Gladstone says:

    It would appear from the difficulty in starting the starboard turbine that a problem existed pre-flight. The issue may not have been related to the in-flight excessive fuel ignition which was on both engines as detailed in the video. However; I believe the pilot and crew were at fault to allow the flight with even minor evidence of engine control unit (ECU) issues such as the start requiring a barbeque lighter ignition. Even if that were the normal method by which these engines were started, that plane would likely not pass safety check under AMA regs. I may be wrong but as far as I know there are no commercially sold turbines that instruct the operator to light it with a BBQ lighter!!!

    Now as far as your attempt to start a thread on turbines being unsafe with your “this week’s question”, please understand that what was contained in that video was done against the New Zealand turbine operators safety code as we in Canada were informed of it a couple of years ago while doing research to update our turbine operators safety code.

    I do not know what engines were being used there and possibly they may have been home built units too. The ground crew was fast but not educated as to how to turn off the manual fuel shut off valve which should be located under the main hatch. This was why the fire kept re-igniting as far as I can see. Once the hatch was removed and the fuel was shut off the fires were extinguished. In both the USA and Canada we are required to have this ability both by radio as well as manually. The spotter/helper must be educated as to where the valve is located as well as the correct times to use it!

    Too many people without proper knowledge are starting these potential turbine bashing threads to affect their online ‘ratings’ without enough forethought to the damage these threads can do. Please do not lump us all together with a foreign video of a less than prepared crew operating a sub-standard pair of jet engines, in what appears to be a Jerry Springer-ish attempt at sensationalistic journalism! I expected better from Model Airplane News, a lot better!

  5. chip reymundo says:

    These types of videos may be entertaining to some, but remember that a lot of non-RC people watch them too. If you had a flying field near your house and you saw this would you be just a bit uneasy? Fields are tough to keep…

  6. Walt Thyng says:

    Since I have had two electric powered planes catch on fire in the air, I don’t really understand the logic of the question. I admire pilots who fly turbine powered aircraft. Those that I know are careful, meticulous and approach the skill level of full scale pilots. They represent an important part of the hobby.

    I am far more concerned about “FPV” flying. It not only violates the AMA safety code, but it coulc well lead to more trouble with the FAA

    • Tom says:

      Couple things: How does FPV flying violate the AMA safety code? A standby pilot ready to take control is required in case the FPV pilot experiences a problem.

      …”well lead to more trouble with the FAA.” Really??? More trouble than what, precisely? A large, heavy, high speed, on fire, turbine-powered aircraft potentially crashing into a gaggle of spectators? Get real.

      Such statements merely reveal your personal biases. I say both turbines AND FPV represent important parts of the hobby, as does every other technical advance that’s led to the hobby being as diverse as it is today.

      Or do you still fly control line planes that are safety tethered to the ground?

      • matt says:

        Try some decaf maybe. I have fond memories of control line flying with my dad. Or is this site turning into the youtube site where a bunch of idiots can just spout hate and forget this great hobby we share. Maybe we should all at least try to think like adults before we post.

  7. Andy says:

    I wouldn’t worry too much as there many videos of mishaps at full scale airshows and they keep being put on. Scale jets are definitely for the patient and wealthy;-)

  8. Christian Lombardo says:

    Danger is part of the sport. This is an education for the modeler’s jet. I think I would given a time to think well about what happened to avoid it next time. This is part of learning. especially in the “real” jet industry they have problems too. Nothing is perfect. But we must always strive to make our knowledge better when incidents such as this happens. It is a learning experience.

    So @Len Gladstone do not judge if you were not there. You are making up many predictions that may or may not be true. That is unfair. How do you know this guy has “improper” knowledge. For that matter this incident could have happened to you too.

  9. Stephen says:

    The Len Gladstones of this world need to get some perspective. He’s so wrapped up in his safety code that he fails to appreciate that the most dangerous thing the pilot did that day was the drive in his car to the flying field

  10. Rich says:

    As with any part of this hobby, knowing is half the battle……

  11. Walt Thyng says:

    Tom,
    I’m truly sorry that you are unable to enter a conversation without resorting to sarcasm. The presence of a spotter will do no good if the FPV is out of sight. That is a violation of the spirit, if not of the letter of the Safety Code.

    Aviation in any form is an inherently dangerous activity and is rendered safe only by adherence to the highest standards of operation and common sense.

    In my opinion FPV is the plastic bottle of modelling: the question to be asked is not “can we”, but “should we.”

  12. Patrick E. says:

    I myself have not a problem one with RC jets. What I do have a problem with are pilots modding these missles. If you heard the pilot in the last 30 seconds or so of the vid, he was asked about he’s “afterburner” mod.

    These engines weren’t made for dumping raw fuel aft of the compressor fans…thats what started the fire, a pool of unburnt fuel in the engine exhaust nossle, notice the fuel on the horizontal stab.

  13. Christian Lombardo says:

    @ Walt Thyng I think you are negatively sarcastic in my opinion. Having negative thoughts on things is what hold evolution from happening in this hobby. Instead having an open mind and seeing all possible benefits of what could bring about. FPV is another option in the hobby that allows the hobbyist to learn and pursue. We do not need more rules in this world, what we need is education. And an educated person should be able to make a decision for him or herself what is best for them, not some organized body telling what others is better for them. FPV is a high tech concept that are used in professional industry. So if you are going to use it you have learn about it, just like for example all the “gas” model pilots that convert their planes to electric they have to learn the battery technology and how to use it such as charging lithium polymer batteries. New concepts and technology is what makes this hobby exciting and helps the world evolve because technology is applied everywhere.

    @Andy well said!!! :-)

  14. Christian Lombardo says:

    @Stephen great words of wisdom! :-)

  15. GE says:

    Brilliant response Francis !

  16. Ray says:

    Len Gladstone has some very good points which should not be ignored. As an operator of full size turbine engines I understand many of the issues Len discusses and the parallels that can be drawn between the safe operations of older full size turbines and RC turbines.
    The one thing that I noted regarding the safety crew, albeit their response time was right up there with the Fromula 1 safety crews, is that the first guy to the jet was not even wearing any type of foot wear. A serious hazard in itself. The last thing you need to to create is another emergency because the responder has become injured. If your are a safety crew member you need to take the responsibility seriously and not expect that nothing will go wrong.
    I am not a RC turbine operator, and like most here, I wish I had to money to own some. However, as I watched the video I was running my own emergency procedures through my head wondering why these had not yet reached the RC world. Len’s clarification of the rules regulating RC Turbines has validated that these procedures and rules do exist.
    The Stephens and Christians of the hobby are right in that we were not there. But we need to understand that that aircraft should not have even left the ground in the first place. It is the pilots who have little regard for the regulations that the majority of us hobbies have agreed to abide by, that are the ones that will always provide us with “Lessons learned” discussions and provide controversial comments which brings a better awareness to our hobby.
    I think turbines are a great addition to the hobby and are here to stay. Pilots and crews just need to make sure they have done their best to become fully educated in the safe operation of turbine engines, and ensure those who they have recruited to assist know what their responsibilities are just like a Formula 1 safety crew or the Crash Fire Rescue crews at airports.

  17. RO Porter says:

    We will be manufacturing highly functional but inexpensive jets. There is always a risk when any rc plane takes off but a turbine has special risks. Most fields have grass and trees which under dry conditions can become a fire storm in the event of a true turbine crash.

    I offer two suggestion 1). That powerful edf’s be developed and flown. (cratejets approach) 2). Those pilots who are fianically
    able to afford the ultimate in rc flight be willing to pay a higher AMA rate to cover fields and building more than likely on rented property.and it should be mandatory that some sort of automatic fire suppression system be installed.

    Many will argue that this extreme BUt consider what would happen if the fire turned inordinate an explosion with everybody rushing toward the model.

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