NTSB Identification: MIA99FA038.
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Nonscheduled 14 CFR operation of TOWER AIR (D.B.A. operation of TOWER AIR )
Accident occurred Tuesday, December 01, 1998 in MIAMI, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/28/1999
Aircraft: Boeing 747-259B, registration: N621FF
Injuries: 4 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The flight was delayed several hours from its originally scheduled departure, because the cargo had not yet been loaded. The first officer and engineer had entered the airplane, and laid down in the bunk beds at the aft end of the upper deck. The captain said he boarded the airplane about 0245, and, '...the cargo loading process was well on its way.' He got busy with determining the fuel load, and other changes in the flight plan. He said, '...suddenly we heard the Ground Crew Call signal...and I was told...the aircraft is on Fire... I ordered my crew to evacuate the aircraft. ' All the flight crew members exited the airplane out the L1, boarding door. An employee of Tower Air, standing on the left side of the airplane, near the nose said he noticed 'sparks' at the lower right hand side of the fuel truck, that was located under the right wing, near the ladder. He could see flames on the lower side of the truck under the right wing. He immediately beeped the flight deck crew who were in the cockpit, and realized they were probably not aware of the urgency, so he decided to run up the stairs and yelled 'Fire.' According to the refueler, he had pumped 6,000 gallons of Jet 'A' into the right wing and was standing on the deck over the pump when he noticed 'white to a light gray' smoke coming from the bottom of the truck's cab, and directly under him. He tried to disconnect the upper deck hoses from the airplane, but before he could he saw flames coming from the same area of the truck. He attempted to put out the fire with a handheld extinguisher, without success. Examination of the fuel truck revealed that there was intense fire damage near the truck's transmission. A hole was found in the fuel line from the pump to the hose, directly above the area of the most intense fire damage. The Metropolitan Dade County Fire Department, report stated, the fire damage on the truck's engine, '...was possibly due to burning jet fuel from fueling operations at the time of the fire...from under the vehicle in the area between the cab and tank...due to severe damage to the area tank/cab, the source of the fuel leak could not be determined.'

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

a fire that started under the fuel truck's cab from an undetermined fuel leak, resulting in fire damage to the airplane.

Full narrative available

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