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What Is Foam Path?

Foam Path:

A medical flight made an emergency belly landing at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai after a wheel of the aircraft separated from its body. Mumbai airport officials sprayed foam on the runway to prevent fire as the Beechcraft VT-JIL aircraft made a belly landing.

  • A foam path is an aviation safety practice of spreading a layer of fire suppression foam on an airport runway prior to an emergency landing.
  • Following a crash-landing, liquids leaking from the aircraft, which are not yet burning, start evaporating, thereby resulting in forming an air-vapor mixture that is flammable or even highly explosive.
  • In such cases, extinguishing foam is used preventively and the liquid is covered with a foam carpet as a vapor barrier.
  • Airport fire brigades create a foam carpet in order to secure an emergency landing if the landing gear of an aircraft is not extended or is unstable.
  • This is done in order to suppress the sparking and burning of any aircraft metals due to friction with the runway surface.
  • The concerns surrounding the use of foam paths
    • Although originally it was thought that foam paths would prevent fires, the practice is now discouraged.
    • The International Civil Aviation Organization does not recommend foaming the runway in its Airport Services Manual, stating that the effectiveness of runway foaming is not fully substantiated by the real evidence of operational incident studies.