Gamco: that 'small' hangar fire in full

It's official: the 19 April night-time fire at Gulf Aircraft Maintenance's hangar in Abu Dhabi was brought under "quick control" and "contained expeditiously", a line dutifully repeated by the Arab press later that day, thereby sparing Gamco the indignity of having to wipe too much umm ali off its face.

But in a world where large hangars - even those protected by closed-circuit television - can co-exist with small mobile phone cameras, the truth inevitably will out. The truth in this case being that the Qatar Airways A300-600 in Bay 1 (for those unfamiliar with the layout, that's right next to the huge 'No Smoking' sign) was practically reduced to ashes, as these pictures clearly illustrate.

Such was the intensity of the blaze that it almost saved painters the job of de-identifying the fuselage. Given that five other aircraft were strategically crammed into the same space, Gamco can consider itself lucky not to have suffered the same misfortune as Sabena Technics (see below) and become a beacon of the local economy for all the wrong reasons.

Sabena Technics hangar blaze destroys C-130H Hercules

and an Armavia A320 - 04 May 2006

A fire overnight at the Sabena Technics hangar in Brussels national airport has destroyed four aircraft including a Belgian armed forces Lockheed Martin C-130H Hercules and an Airbus A320 belonging to Amenian national carrier Armavia.

The fire started just after 00:00 and was brought under control by around 02:30, says Brussels International Airport (BIAC), the airport operator. The Sabena Technics hangar, around 1,000m2 (10,760ft2), reached temperatures of at least 100C (212F) buckling the all-metal structure, bringing the roof down, firefighters say. The fire continued to burn into the morning, authorities add. Firefighters say the priority was to avoid the fire spreading to the neighboring hangar, owned by the Belgian branch of World of TUI, Jetairfly.

The following amateur photos show the firefighters bringing the blaze under control.

Sabena Technics fire 01 W445
Sabena Technics fire 01 W445
Sabena Technics fire 03 W445

One Sabena Technics employee was seriously injured and taken to hospital. A further four were treated for minor injuries.
BIAC says one C-130, operated by the Belgian military, was totally destroyed in the fire and Sabena Technics says the hangar also housed three other aircraft at the time of the blaze. Sabena Technics says one of the aircraft was an Airbus A320 operated by Armavia, which lost another of its aircraft this week in a fatal accident over the Black Sea.

Sabena confirms that other aircraft in the hangar were damaged, but are unable to give further details of the operator, type or extent of the damage.

The maintenance facility is rated to undertake C- and D-checks on Boeing 737 and 767s in addition to A320s and C-130s.

Air transport from Brussels was disrupted, with delays of 15-20min in early flights.

Belgian armed force air command operates eleven C-130Hs.