Failure of an External Tank Pressure/Vent Valve
An external tank pressure/vent valve regulates the external tank fuel feed system, which transfers fuel under pressure to the internal tanks of the aircraft. A dual-position valve was found to be sticking at the intermediate positions. Also, service air check valves located on the incoming lines contained poppets that were being stuck in a closed or partially closed position because of suspected corrosion product. Residue taken from the check valve poppet and from the dual-position valve was chemically analyzed. Chloride was present in both samples. It was suspected that moisture entering the service air lines left a chloride-containing compound upon evaporation within the air check valves and pressure/vent assembly. This compound subsequently reacted with the anodized, dichromate sealed check valve housing to lock the check valve poppets in a closed or partially closed position, decreasing the actual pressure being supplied to the pressure/vent valve. It was recommended that an inspection be conducted to ensure that the service air check valves are operating properly prior to removal and servicing of the pressure/vent valve assembly. It was also recommended that dry-film lubricant be checked to ensure that it meets specifications for the pressure/vent valve assembly.
Failure of an External Tank Pressure/Vent Valve, ASM Failure Analysis Case Histories: Air and Spacecraft, ASM International, 2019, https://doi.org/10.31399/asm.fach.aero.c0006424
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