TWA Flight 800

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Trans World Airlines Flight 800 (TWA 800), a Boeing 747, exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near East Moriches, New York, on July 17, 1996, 12 minutes after takeoff, killing all 230 persons on board. TWA 800 was a scheduled international passenger flight from New York to Rome. The crashed stirred great controversy like a terrorist attack. After painstakingly reassembling the wreckage, the NTSB dismissed the possibility of a terrorist bomb or missile attack and concluded that fumes in the plane's nearly empty center wing fuel tank had ignited, most likely after a short circuit in a wire bundle led to a spark in the fuel gauge sensor. In addition to the probable cause, the NTSB found the following contributing factors to the accident; the design and certification concept that fuel tank explosions could be prevented solely by precluding all ignition sources and the certification of the Boeing 747 with heat sources located beneath the center wing tank (CWT) with no means to reduce the heat transferred into the CWT or to render the fuel tank vapor non-combustible. The FAA has since mandated changes to reduce sparks from faulty wiring and other sources. Boeing, meanwhile, has developed a fuel inerting system that injects nitrogen gas into fuel tanks to reduce the chance of explosions and installing the system in all its newly built planes. During the course of its investigation, and in its final report, the NTSB issued fifteen safety recommendations, mostly covering fuel tank and wiring related issues. As a result of the investigation, new requirements were developed for aircraft to prevent future fuel tank explosions.

(Video embedded from YouTube on 22 Sept 2011)

(Video embedded from YouTube on 22 Sept 2011)

(Video embedded from YouTube on 22 Sept 2011)

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