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Aircraft

NTSB Announces Plan to Decommission and Destroy TWA Flight 800

NTSB Announces Plan to Decommission and Destroy TWA Flight 800
Joe Cortez

After 20 years of being used as a training tool, the reconstruction of TWA Flight 800 will be decommissioned by the National Transportation Safety Board. Under an agreement with the families of the tragedy, the pieces of the reconstruction will be destroyed.

As part of the National Transportation Safety Board training center, the reconstructed wreckage of TWA Flight 800 served as a training tool for hundreds of aviation accident investigators from around the world. But after 25 years, the agency says the reconstruction is no longer needed, and is working with a federal government contractor to decommission and destroy the remains.

Reconstructed Fuselage to End Service on July 7, 2021

TWA Flight 800 was a Boeing 747-100 operated by Trans World Airlines, departing John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) for Rome-Fiumicino Leonardo da Vinci Airport (FCO), with a stopover at Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport (CDG). The aircraft never made it to its destination, after it exploded minutes after departing New York. All 230 souls, including 18 crewmembers, were lost in the crash. The TWA Flight Center became a make-shift information center in the hours and days after the incident.

After a four-year investigation by the NTSB, investigators discovered the explosion was caused by an accident involving the aircraft’s electronics sparking fuel vapors in the center tank. Boeing later paid a $12 million settlement regarding the flawed fuel tank designs.

Since then, the reconstructed wreckage sat at the NTSB training center campus, used as a training tool for current and future air accident investigators. Between 2015 and 2019, the NTSB says they trained an average of 2,622 students every year using the aircraft remains. But after 20 years, the agency says the reconstructed fuselage part is no longer needed, because 3D scanning and drone imagery reduces the need for large-scale reconstructions.

“The investigation of the crash of TWA Flight 800 is a seminal moment in aviation safety history,” NTSB managing director Sharon Bryson said in a press release. “From that investigation we issued safety recommendations that fundamentally changed the way aircraft are designed. The investigation also led to a memorandum of understanding between the FBI and the NTSB regarding investigations of accidents resulting from intentional acts as well as evidence collection and preservation.”

The final day of use for TWA Flight 800 is July 7, 2021 – 10 days before the 25th anniversary of the disaster. From there, the agency will thoroughly document the reconstruction using a variety of 3D scanning tools. The data will ultimately be archived by the agency for historical purposes.

“Our Transportation Disaster Assistance division and I have connected with representatives of TWA Flight 800 family groups,” Bryson said in the press release. “To help ensure families of those who perished on TWA Flight 800 learned of our decision directly from the NTSB before our public announcement.”

Reconstruction to Be Destroyed Under Agreement with Families

The decision to destroy the remains were part of an original agreement between the survivors of TWA Flight 800 and the NTSB. The families agreed to allow the NTSB to use the remains as a training tool with the understanding that it would never be used as an exhibit or public display. Instead, an international TWA Flight 800 Memorial was constructed as a national park at the Fire Island National Seashore.

Feature image courtesy NTSB via Public Domain

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1 Comment

  1. Centurion

    March 3, 2021 at 9:36 pm

    It should be kept. PERIOD!

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