Wednesday, July 16, 2008

NTSB Chairman Commends FAA on Major Advancement in Aviation Safety

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Mark V. Rosenker today commended the U.S.
Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration for its final rule on fuel tank inerting. This rule is a result of a Safety Board recommendation aimed at eliminating fuel tank explosions in transport category aircraft. This recommendation has been on the Board's Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements since 2002.

"The NTSB congratulates the DOT and the FAA on this important safety achievement," said Chairman Rosenker. "From tragedy we draw knowledge to improve safety and today's
announcement represents a significant step toward avoiding future aviation accidents of this nature."

On July 17, 1996, TWA flight 800, a 747 en route from New York to Paris, exploded shortly after taking off from JFK Airport. 230 people lost their lives. In its final report, the Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the TWA 800 crash was an explosion of the center wing fuel tank, resulting from ignition of the flammable fuel/air mixture in the tank.

The Safety Board called upon the FAA to require design or operational changes that will preclude the operation of large airplanes with explosive fuel-air mixtures in the fuel tank. In particular, the Board recommended that the FAA give significant consideration to the development of airplane design modifications, such as nitrogen-inerting systems, and
to apply such modifications to newly certificated airplanes and, where feasible, to existing airplanes.

The rule issued today by the DOT was in response to the Safety Board's recommendation A-96-174.

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