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TWA 800

State-of-the-Art Training Facility

The Training Center's new 72,000-square-foot, two-level facility, includes:

  • Five classrooms equipped with advanced audio/video systems and Internet connectivity
  • Two conference rooms
  • Video conferencing facilities
  • Student lounge
  • Laboratory to house instructional wreckage, including the 93-foot reconstruction of the forward portion the TWA flight 800 aircraft's fuselage, the largest reconstruction in the history of civil aviation

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Instructional Wreckage Underwater recovery and wreckage reconstruction were some of the extraordinary skills needed to determine the cause of several recent accidents, including the flight of TWA 800. The reconstruction of the center fuselage of this Boeing 747 was the largest and most complex ever undertaken in the history of civil aviation. It is now being used as an important teaching and training tool at the Training Center.

Click here for more information on the TWA Flight 800 accident.

Calverton, NY (1997)

The reconstruction of the 93-foot section of the forward fuselage of TWA flight 800 took place over the winter and spring of 1997 in a hangar in Calverton, New York. The reconstruction of the Boeing 747 fuselage includes the center wing fuel tank, the heaviest structural part of the plane. It weighs about 60,000 pounds (not including the steel framework on which the airplane pieces were assembled) and consists of almost 1,600 pieces, including more than 700 from the center wing fuel tank.

NTSB Training Center, Ashburn, VA (2003)

In the fall of 2003, the disassembled reconstruction was transported to the NTSB Training Center in Ashburn, Virginia where it was reassembled.

NTSB Training Center, Ashburn, VA (2004)

The reconstruction has been used to train hundreds of investigators from around the world in accident investigation principles and techniques.

The NTSB TWA 800 Accident Investigation Training Course consists of a 2 hour classroom PowerPoint presentation that covers the following:

 Executive Summary

On July 17, 1996, about 2031 eastern daylight time, Trans World Airlines, Inc. (TWA) flight 800, a Boeing 747-131, N93119, crashed in the Atlantic Ocean near East Moriches, New York. TWA flight 800 was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 121 as a scheduled international passenger flight from John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York, New York, to Charles DeGaulle International Airport, Paris, France. The flight departed JFK about 2019, with 2 pilots, 2 flight engineers, 14 flight attendants, and 212 passengers on board. All 230 people on board were killed, and the airplane was destroyed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan.

Probable Cause

The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the TWA flight 800 accident was an explosion of the center wing fuel tank (CWT), resulting from ignition of the flammable fuel/air mixture in the tank. The source of ignition energy for the explosion could not be determined with certainty, but, of the sources evaluated by the investigation, the most likely was a short circuit outside of the CWT that allowed excessive voltage to enter it through electrical wiring associated with the fuel quantity indication system.

Contributing factors to the accident were the design and certification concept that fuel tank explosions could be prevented solely by precluding all ignition sources and the design and certification of the Boeing 747 with heat sources located beneath the CWT with no means to reduce the heat transferred into the CWT or to render the fuel vapor in the tank nonflammable.

The safety issues in this report focus on fuel tank flammability, fuel tank ignition sources, design and certification standards, and the maintenance and aging of aircraft systems. Safety recommendations concerning these issues are addressed to the Federal Aviation Administration.


New Recommendations

As a result of the investigation of the TWA flight 800 accident, the National Transportation Safety Board makes the following recommendations to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA):

Examine manufacturers' design practices with regard to bonding of components inside fuel tanks and require changes in those practices, as necessary, to eliminate potential ignition hazards. (A-00-105)

Review the design specifications for aircraft wiring systems of all U.S.-certified aircraft and (1) identify which systems are critical to safety and (2) require revisions, as necessary, to ensure that adequate separation is provided for the wiring related to those critical systems. (A-00-106)

Require the development and implementation of corrective actions to eliminate the ignition risk posed by silver-sulfide deposits on fuel quantity indication system components inside fuel tanks. (A-00-107)

Regardless of the scope of the Aging Transport Systems Rulemaking Advisory Committee's eventual recommendations, address (through rulemaking or other means) all of the issues identified in the Aging Transport Non-Structural Systems Plan, including

·        the need for improved training of maintenance personnel to ensure adequate recognition and repair of potentially unsafe wiring conditions;

·        the need for improved documentation and reporting of potentially unsafe electrical wiring conditions; and

·        the need to incorporate the use of new technology, such as arc-faultcircuit breakers and automated wire test equipment.

 The training course concludes with 2 hour walking tour of the of the NTSB football field-sized laboratory that serves not just as an instructional venue, but also as a resource for active investigations.

Course Instructor:

Dr. Paul F Schuda, Director – NTSB Training Center