Victims' Families Call For Action On Fuel Tank Safety
It was 10 years ago
today -- July 17, 1996 -- that TWA Flight 800 exploded in the sky
above the Atlantic Ocean... crashing into the water and killing all
230 people on board.
The NTSB conducted a painstaking
investigation into the crash -- one that saw salvage
crews scour the ocean floor for wreckage, which was then
meticulously reconstructed. The result of that investigation: TWA
800 was killed by an explosion in its center-line fuel tank... an
explosion caused by a wiring malfunction and fed by vapors from the
partially-filled tank itself.
A full decade later... the chairman of the NTSB and members of
Congress are furious that the FAA has failed to implement measures
the safety board says would eliminate these types of accidents in
Just last week, ANN reported on the NTSB's investigation
into the explosion of a Transmile 727 wing tank -- one
that had been retrofitted according to the FAA's latest
instructions -- also caused by arcing along a wiring conduit inside
the fuel tank itself.
The NTSB says... had the explosion happened while that 727 was
in the air... the plane would have undoubtedly crashed.
So, what's the answer? The NTSB advocates filling
partially-empty fuel tanks with inert gas to counteract the fuel
vapors. Even the FAA's research shows this method, using nitrogen,
for instance, would be 100-percent effective in stopping this type
of fuel tank explosion.
"This is an important
issue which must be resolved," said Long Island Representative Pete
And yet, the FAA has so far failed to require the use of inert
gases to prevent such explosions. Only last year did the FAA
propose such a rule. Will it become reality? We won't know until
sometime later this year.
We do know that the Air Transport Association, which lobbies for
19 different US airlines... opposes such a requirement... saying
the NTSB and others have overstated the danger of fuel tank
explosions. Simply put, says the ATA, the benefits outweigh the
That enrages those who lost family members and friends aboard
"Our children, our husbands, our wives, our loved ones died
because the FAA did not act responsibly," said John Seaman,
chairman of the Families of TWA Flight 800 Association -- and whose
19-year-old niece died in the crash. "Congress needs to get to the
bottom of this."