The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) last week denied a 2013 petition to re-examine the causes of the July 1996 accident in which TWA Flight 800 exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean soon after takeoff from New York John F. Kennedy International Airport. A group called The TWA 800 Project filed the petition, claiming that a “detonation or high-velocity explosion” (possibly a missile) brought down the Boeing 747.
TWA Flight 800
The NTSB has scheduled a May 13 meeting with agricultural industry leaders and federal regulators to discuss its special investigation report on the safety of agricultural aircraft operations. The Board will announce several new safety recommendations being issued to the FAA and the National Agricultural Aviation Research & Education Foundation. The meeting begins at 2 p.m. EST at NTSB headquarters inWashington, D.C.
As I write, the whereabouts of the missing Boeing 777 operating as Malaysia Air Flight 370 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing remains unknown. The Prime Minister of Malaysia has announced that analysis of satellite data suggests the airplane crashed in the south Indian Ocean but no debris linked to the aircraft has been found.
I remember well that night 17 years ago when TWA Flight 800 exploded and crashed off the coast of Long Island, killing all aboard. I was settling down with some friends at my brother’s Manhattan apartment to watch a game between the Red Sox and their arch-rival Yankees when the game broadcast was interrupted by news that an airliner had crashed soon after takeoff from JFK International.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) received a petition June 19 to reconsider its investigation of the July 17, 1996 crash of TWA 800, a Boeing 747 that exploded while climbing toward Paris shortly after takeoff from New York JFK International Airport. The petition was initiated by a group of people tied to a new documentary film called TWA800, due for release next month on the Epix cable channel.
Dealing with explosive mixtures in the fuel tanks of transport aircraft used to be high on the NTSB’s most-critical list. The subject evolved after the 1996 explosion of the center fuel tank of a TWA Boeing 747 just after departure from JFK Airport.
Everyone agrees that airlines and major corporations need plans for deploying an emergency response in the event of an accident. The airlines, especially, are acutely aware of the intense media and regulatory scrutiny–and lawsuits–that follow any aviation disaster, especially one that involves substantial loss of life. All major airlines and large corporations have aviation accident response plans. Corporate counsel has seen to that.
I get so sick of hearing pundits talk about how bad it is to criminalize aircraft accidents, how we need to be able to determine the cause of accidents without the threat of criminal sanctions such as fines and jail time impeding the free exchange of information. Some claim that the chilling effect of looming criminal inquiries would thwart the NTSB’s ability to determine probable cause and so on.
Boeing plans to issue a Service Bulletin to describe inspection techniques for Boeing 737s similar to the Southwest Airlines 737-300 whose fuselage skin ruptured while on a scheduled flight from Phoenix to Sacramento on April 1. Flight 812 diverted to Yuma, Ariz., for an emergency landing at 5:07 p.m. after a hole developed in the top of fuselage.
The 14th anniversary of TWA 800 came and went this past July 17. Except for family members of the victims, few remember anniversaries of tragedies after the 10th year has passed. The media and general public might lose interest, but for those working to prevent a future disaster, the memory of the Boeing 747 midair explosion remains vivid and concerns about preventing a similar future disaster remain strong.
- Page 1