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.
TWA Flight 800
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.
It has been 12 years since Trans World Airlines experienced the loss of a 747 that had departed JFK airport bound for Paris. All 230 passengers and crew onboard TWA Flight 800 lost their lives on that hot July day in 1996.
The FAA issued a final rule that requires all new commercial airliners to have systems that significantly reduce the risk of center fuel tank fires and those that were built after 1991 to be retrofitted. Although the November 2005 NPRM would have included some transport-category aircraft operated under Part 91, the final rule does not.
Irvine, Calif.-based Eaton Corp. (Booth No. 5967) recently celebrated the successful flight testing of its arc fault circuit breaker (AFCB) technology as a stand-alone replacement for existing circuit breakers. Completing more than 350 normal service flights aboard a U.S.
About 85 pilots, mechanics and flight department personnel attended the Greater Washington Business Aviation Association’s second annual safety standdown, held last week at the NTSB Training Center in Ashburn, Va. “I thought it was a huge success and improved on what we offered the previous year,” said corporate pilot and GWBAA safety and operations chairman Jim Lumley.
In one of her first acts as chairman of the NTSB, Ellen Engleman vowed to take a fresh look at the Board’s safety advocacy programs, including its “Most Wanted” safety improvements.