New CNN angle on TWA800

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New CNN angle on TWA800

Postby 4911 » Sun Jul 16, 2006 8:36 pm

TWA 800 according to cnn was now a "fundamental flaw in aircraft design" and it could happen again. No missile, no terror. No eyewitnesses. Just engineers who fucked up when they designed the plane. Hm, wasnt the entire top brass of the egyptian army on that plane? Wait - what kind of idiot would put his entire crop of top military generals on the same plane? What are the chances that exactly that flight chose to crack up?<br><br>It was simply "faulty wiring".<br><br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href=""></a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><br>Lot more faulty fuckn wiring where that came from. <p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=>4911</A> at: 7/16/06 6:51 pm<br></i>
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Re: New CNN angle on TWA800

Postby greencrow0 » Sun Jul 16, 2006 9:51 pm

Yeah, I saw that disinfo program on TV and said to my, <!--EZCODE BOLD START--><strong>that's</strong><!--EZCODE BOLD END--> why I never watch TV up and walked out of the room.<br><br>GC <p></p><i></i>
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New CNN angle on TWA800

Postby elpuma » Sun Jul 16, 2006 10:49 pm

I saw that program too. If that's not disinfo, then what is? What a crock!<br><br>I'm starting to wonder if they're preparing the viewers for some upcoming "event"....<br> <p></p><i></i>
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Re: New CNN angle on TWA800

Postby HMKGrey » Mon Jul 17, 2006 5:11 pm

Yeah, it smacks of "prepping for something", doesn't it. <br><br>Another plane explodes and there's this resonance for people... <p></p><i></i>
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Postby vondardenelle » Mon Jul 17, 2006 6:16 pm

can anyone point me towards some non-official stories of what happened with this flight? i remember when this happened, but i was pretty young at the time. i heard things about a missle maybe, but never heard anything about the egyptian army or anything. i'd like to read more about it. thanks. <p></p><i></i>
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Re: background

Postby chiggerbit » Mon Jul 17, 2006 6:46 pm

While you're at it, this link on the Gander air crash might also be of interest:<br><br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href=""></a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--> <p></p><i></i>
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Re: Flight 800: Investigator killed in plane crash.......

Postby trexalot » Mon Jul 17, 2006 6:49 pm

Here is a post from my meager little blog----I don't mean to shamelessly self-promote (why would I? I haven't posted on the blog in months)----but the following link is regarding an investigator that was quoted in the press, saying that he believed Flight 800 had been brought down by some type of explosives. This investigator died earlier this year in a plane crash outside of Washington DC. <br><br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href=""></a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><br>The funny thing-----This post generated way more traffic than any other post on the blog. Lots of traffic from the FAA, military bases, and even a server from the federal district in Mexico City. It sounds like the investigator in questions was an upstanding man, so it could be that he had a wide network of well-meaning friends. I don't know----- <p></p><i></i>
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Re: Flight 800: Investigator killed in plane crash.......

Postby chiggerbit » Mon Jul 17, 2006 6:52 pm

A snippet of information on flight 800 that was curiousL<br><br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href=",0,7506836.story?coll=ny-region-apnewyork"></a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><br>Judge refuses request for FBI records on 1996 Flight 800 crash<br><br> Email this story<br><br> Printer friendly format <br> <br>March 31, 2005, 1:54 PM EST<br><br>SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) _ A federal judge has rejected a lawsuit seeking to force the FBI to release more records from its investigation into the crash of TWA Flight 800 off Long Island nearly a decade ago.<br><br>Judge Michael A. Ponsor ruled Tuesday in favor of the FBI in a lawsuit filed by a Massachusetts man who has questioned the government's account of the crash.<br><br> <br>The Boeing 747 jumbo jet exploded in midair and fell into the ocean minutes after taking off from John F. Kennedy International Airport, bound for Paris, on July 17, 1996. All 230 people on board were killed.<br><br>Graeme J. Sephton, a telecommunications engineer at the University of Massachusetts, sued the federal government under the Freedom of Information Act in 2000, seeking data on metal debris and pellets found in or near the bodies of 89 victims. He said the information could help explain why the plane exploded.<br><br>"I'm very disappointed," said Sephton, former director of a group called the Flight 800 Independent Researchers Association. He said he would consult other members of the group before deciding whether to appeal.<br><br>The FBI had investigated the crash as a possible terrorist act. However, in August 2000, the National Transportation Safety Board's parallel inquiry found that the jetliner's center fuel tank exploded, probably due to a spark from a short-circuit in the wiring that ignited vapors in the tank.<br><br>In his decision, Ponsor criticized the FBI for its "halting response" to Sephton's information requests, but found it did not deliberately conceal material.<br><br>The FBI released about 550 pages of documents to Sephton in May 2003. <br> <p></p><i></i>
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Re: Flight 800: Investigator killed in plane crash.......

Postby chiggerbit » Mon Jul 17, 2006 6:55 pm

More on 800:<br><br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href=""></a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><br>TWA 800 Special Misses the Mark <br>By Roger Aronoff | November 14, 2005 <br><br>The National Geographic Channel premiered a new documentary on the crash of TWA 800, claiming to have finally reconstructed through computer simulation what happened that night back on July 17, 1996. TWA 800 was the plane that took off from Kennedy Airport in New York headed for Paris. About 12 minutes into the flight, at an altitude of about 13,000 feet, the plane exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Long Island, killing all 230 people aboard.<br><br>According to the National Geographic show, which was part of a series called Seconds to Disaster, the official findings by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) of what happened that night are correct. Namely, that the plane exploded because of a short in the wiring in the center-wing fuel tank, which created a spark, and the spark caused the fumes from the approximately 50 gallons in the tank to explode. Then the plane tore open at the nose, which fell off, the fuselage climbed at least a couple thousand feet, and the burning fuel coming down created the false impression to eyewitnesses that a missile or plane had struck the plane in midair.<br><br>While the program gave the appearance of being objective, in the sense that it did at least discuss several alternative theories, it ultimately avoided answering the tough questions. What's worse, it reported half-truths and left out key information.<br><br>For example, it said that 260 people witnessed something streaking toward and hitting the plane just before the explosion. But it failed to point out that 92 of those 260 had actually seen the object rise up from the surface before colliding with the ill-fated TWA jet. So the idea that the burning fuel and debris were confused with an object flying toward the plane by all these unrelated eyewitnesses is absurd. These people all provided official eyewitness reports, known as FBI 302's.<br><br>There was nothing in the show about Hank Hughes, a senior NTSB investigator who testified at a Senate hearing about the strange activities of an FBI agent in the hangar where the pieces of the exploded plane were being put back together like some giant jigsaw puzzle. Addressing the Senate committee, Hughes said that "I saw him in the middle of the hangar with a hammer in the process of trying to flatten a piece of wreckage. In investigative work you do not alter evidence." Hughes also charged that evidence was being removed from the hangar. He said that following a complete inventory, "Not to our surprise, we found that seats were missing and other evidence had been disturbed." <br><br>Kristina Borjesson, an award winning producer for CBS News, lost her job when she challenged the official version of what happened. Evidence uncovered in her initial investigation led her to believe there was a missile involved, and she wanted CBS to report what she had found. When they refused, she kept pressing, until it cost her her job. She wrote about it in a book she edited called "Into the Buzzsaw."<br><br>Maj. Fred Meyer is shown in the National Geographic show as one of the eyewitnesses. But they left out the fact that Meyer, a lawyer and Vietnam veteran Naval aviator, said that "Based on two combat tours, it is my firm belief to this day that it was military ordnance" that brought down TWA 800. He also said that the FBI never asked to speak to him, so he went to them. After sending over a low ranking agent to hear what Meyer had to say, the agent asked him no questions, and they never called him again.<br><br>And much more. Former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Thomas Moorer, was convinced the plane was shot down, and said so publicly. And Captain Ray Lahr, a former United Airlines pilot, has an ongoing case. He has a lawsuit against the NTSB and the CIA based on what he calls the "impossible zoom-climb." He wants to know how they came up with the theory that after the nose broke off of the 747, the fuselage climbed in altitude by some 3,000 feet. Lahr and other aerodynamic experts do not believe that is possible.<br><br>Several people have done excellent work and investigation on this important story. They include the late Commander Bill Donaldson; Jim Sanders and Jack Cashill, and the books and videos they have done; investigators Graeme Sephton and Tom Stalcup; and of course, Reed Irvine, founder of Accuracy in Media, who passed away last year. There is a lot of evidence on the record that TWA 800 was brought down by something crashing into it and exploding. And that there was a cover-up to conceal what really happened.<br><br>The hows and whys are the subjects of theories. But the hard evidence, both eyewitness, physical, proof of cover-up, and circumstantial, plus the lack of evidence for the spark in the tank, point to a story that needs to be re-opened.<br><br>Instead, however, the National Geographic Channel, re-told the official version of a story-a version that just doesn't stand up under the weight of the evidence.<br><br>Roger Aronoff also wrote and produced TWA 800: The Search for the Truth<br> <p></p><i></i>
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Re: Flight 800: Missile fuel was found on debris, covered up

Postby Hugh Manatee Wins » Tue Jul 18, 2006 3:38 am

<!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href=""></a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>Unofficial investigators claimed to have found traces of explosives on the seats in the plane. Since a Stinger and similar shoulder-fired missiles have warheads with less than 1kg (2.2lbs) of explosives it seems unlikely to have left much of any residue, but on SEATS, INSIDE the plane? If those tests were accurate, it would make more sense that the explosion was caused by a larger missile like the Navy Standard. At least that’s my semi-professional estimation.<hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END--><br><br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href=""></a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href=""></a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>COLLECTED FACTS<br><br>EXPLOSIVE RESIDUE LINES UP WITH HOLE IN PLANE.<br><br>THE 11/15/96 NTSB CHAIRMAN'S BRIEFING.<br><br>SCORCH MARKS ON THE RECONSTRUCTED AIRCRAFT. PROOF THE PLANE CAME APART BEFORE THE FUEL EXPLOSION.<br><br>THE ORIGINAL AIRCRAFT.<br><br>POSSIBLE MISSILE TRACK.<br><br>THE COURSE TRACKS OF THE P-3.<br><br>THE FIRST RADAR IMAGES<br><br>THE SECOND RADAR IMAGES<br><br>RESIDUE ANALYSIS<br><br>DEBRIS FIELD ANALYSIS<br><br>WARNING ZONES<br><br>PURPORTED RADAR IMAGES OF EXPLOSION<br><br>KABOT PHOTOS, DRONES, AND KRIEGER'S CONTRAIL<br><br>WEAPONS SYSTEMS AND CEC<br>THE POLITICAL DIMENSIONS<br><br>THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES STARTS ASKING ABOUT THE MISSILE.<br><br>PROOF THE INVESTIGATION IS POLITICALLY DIRECTED.<br><br>Clinton's Executive Order Exempting the Naval Special Warfare Development Group from the Federal Labor-Management Relations Program.<br>MISC<br><br>MISC 747 SPECS<br><br>ASSORTED MAPS<br><br>James Kallstrom admits possibility of missile<br>FBI head acknowledges terrorist missile could have brought TWA jet down<br><br>Kallstrom admits three Navy ships were closer to the TWA explosion than the USS Normandy<br>Excerpt from a RealAudio interview of James Kallstrom by Reed Irvine of Accuracy In Media.<br>IRVINE: Let's open up the report, lets open up the record, lets take out the secrecy. That's the point.<br><br>KALLSTROM: Ya, I think it would be good to do that at this point now that the criminal case is not open. But it's in the hands of NTSB...<br><br>IRVINE: Hay, the bureau [FBI] just sent [Congressman] Trafficant a letter saying they couldn't identify three vessels that were in the vicinity for privacy reasons - come on.<br><br>KALLSTROM: Well, ya. Well, we all know what those were. In fact, I even spoke about those publicly.<br><br>IRVINE: What were they?<br><br>KALLSTROM: They were Navy vessels that were on classified maneuvers.<br><br>IRVINE: What about the one that went racing out to sea at 30 knots?<br><br>KALLSTROM: That was a helicopter.<br><br>IRVINE: On the surface?<br><br>...<br><br>KALLSTROM: Well, between you and I the conventional wisdom was, although it's probably not totally provable, was that it was a helicopter.<br><br>US Navy Master Chief on USS Trepang admits Navy shot down TWA 800.<br>UPDATE: Latest report is that the Master Chief has retracted his story, citing concerns over his Navy pension.<br>The "Drone Fax"<br>In 1997 reporter W. Michael Pitcher of "The Southampton Press" newspaper broke the story of a Riverhead, Long Island resident who mistakenly received faxes of official documents related to the federal TWA Flight 800 investigation. The resident, Dede Muma, had a telephone line connected to her own fax machine with a number close to the number being used to direct investigation-related faxes to FBI and other personnel on Long Island. A transposition of the last two digits in the intended destination's phone number by the sender connected the sending fax machine to Ms. Muma's fax machine instead.<br><br>The coversheet of the fax Ms. Muma received indicates it was from a worker at Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical in San Diego to a co-worker helping the FBI on Long Island. The fax, actually multiple faxed pages, concerns rear structures of a drone aircraft Teledyne Ryan manufactures for the US military: the "Firebee" drone. The separate pages of that fax appear at this link.<br><br>The following letter is posted here with the permission of the author, Jack Cashill.<br><br>TWA 800 Controversy Heats Up<br><br>On a warm June evening in Kansas City, the historic home of TWA and the current site of its huge overhaul base, a group of 75 or so airline pilots watched the documentary Silenced : Flight 800 and the Subversion of Justice in stunned horror.<br><br>Afterwards, not a one among them, either publicly or privately, challenged the video's thesis that TWA Flight 800 had indeed been shot down. Offered instead were corroborating details, particularly from angry TWA pilots, about the money trail and the inexplicable Pentagon visits of then TWA CEO, Jeff Erickson. Said one TWA pilot. "90% of us believe there was a government cover-up."<br><br>From the Boeing community in Seattle the response has been much the same. Writes one Boeing engineer, a man who had spent countless hours helping analyze TWA 800 on Boeing's Cray Supercomputers, "I brought it (Silenced) to work today and showed it during lunch to eight of my fellow Boeing workers. The room was deathly quiet the entire time . . . . My impression then was a missile strike and it is even more so today."<br><br>Even more troubling is the response of Mike Wire, the Philadelphia millwright on whose presumed testimony, the CIA based its notorious animation of TWA 800 rocketing upwards like a missile.<br><br>"The video "Silenced" presents a factual reenactment of what I saw that night. My part of the video also is what I told the FBI a few days after the incident at an in-depth interview at my residence. As you can see what I saw originated from behind the houses on the beach that is why I at first thought it to be a firework. It most definitely didn't start up in the sky like the FBI/CIA story says. I don't know how they could (come) up with that scenario because it doesn't match what I saw and told the FBI or what other witnesses I have talk to since May of 2000 had reported."<br><br>Writes Dwight Brumley, a 20-year Navy vet who watched the tragedy unfold from above, after watching Silenced.<br><br>"The CIA animation in no way represents what I saw that night. Based on the time line, as I understand it, the "flare" that I reported seeing off the right side of and below USAir 217 COULD NOT, I repeat, COULD NOT have been TWA 800 in crippled flight just before and after it exploded. There are two reasons why. First, TWA 800 would have been moving in my field of view from left to right, not from right to left as I clearly observed; and Second, my understanding of the basic laws of aerodynamics leads me to conclude there is no way that TWA 800, with the nose section gone, could have possibly climbed 3000-4000 feet as the CIA video portrays." <hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END--><br><br> <p></p><i></i>
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Flight 800-related attorney dead in recent plane crash.....

Postby trexalot » Wed Jul 19, 2006 8:03 pm

This news came out Tuesday, July 18th at the following website.......<br><br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href=""></a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--><br><br>Attorney Who Practiced Suing Airlines Dies in Plane Crash<br><br>In a fateful twist of irony, an American attorney who specialized in suing airlines has reportedly been killed in a plane crash. The 73-year-old was the lone one occupying the small plane, which he apparently owned.<br><br>The crash occurred shortly after his takeoff, although it has yet to be determined what actually caused the plane to go down. The man was reported to be an experienced pilot, possessing a valid pilot's license.<br><br>The man was involved in dozens of lawsuits, from wrongful death suits to personal injury claims, including suits related to the 1996 TWA Flight 800 disaster.<br><br> <p></p><i></i>
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Re: Flight 800-related attorney dead in recent plane crash..

Postby 4911 » Wed Jul 19, 2006 8:42 pm

"I saw him in the middle of the hangar with a hammer in the process of trying to flatten a piece of wreckage."<br><br>ROFL <p></p><i></i>
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It really is astonishing how,

Postby Rigorous Intuition » Wed Jul 19, 2006 9:28 pm

along with all of the evidence for a missile strike, more than 100 witnesses can agree they saw a streak of light rise from the sea, authorities can say <!--EZCODE ITALIC START--><em>No, you didn't see that; here's a cartoon of what really happened</em><!--EZCODE ITALIC END-->, and that becomes history. <p></p><i></i>
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Re: Thats the kinda stuff I read .....

Postby slimmouse » Wed Jul 19, 2006 9:56 pm

<!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>along with all of the evidence for a missile strike, more than 100 witnesses can agree they saw a streak of light rise from the sea, authorities can say No, you didn't see that; here's a cartoon of what really happened, and that becomes history.<hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END--><br><br> Thats the kinda stuff I read and recurgitated as part of my "honours" degree in History <!--EZCODE EMOTICON START :rolleyes --><img src= ALT=":rolleyes"><!--EZCODE EMOTICON END--> <br><br><!--EZCODE ITALIC START--><em><!--EZCODE BOLD START--><strong>The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education</strong><!--EZCODE BOLD END--></em><!--EZCODE ITALIC END-->. - Albert Einstein<br><br> Just thought Id add a 'scientific' angle to my findings, given my recent frollicks elsewhere on this board <!--EZCODE EMOTICON START ;) --><img src= ALT=";)"><!--EZCODE EMOTICON END--> <p></p><i></i>
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Postby Pele'sDaughter » Tue Feb 10, 2009 4:37 pm

FAA to loosen fuel-tank safety rules, benefiting Boeing's 787

Boeing's 787 Dreamliner cannot meet the Federal Aviation Administration's current stringent standards for preventing sparks inside the fuel tank during a lightning strike, and the agency now calls those requirements "impractical" and proposes to loosen them.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has quietly decided to loosen stringent fuel-tank safety regulations written after the 1996 fuel-tank explosion that destroyed flight TWA 800 off the coast of New York state.

The FAA proposes to relax the safeguards for preventing sparks inside the fuel tank during a lightning strike, standards the agency now calls "impractical" and Boeing says its soon-to-fly 787 Dreamliner cannot meet.

Instead of requiring three independent protection measures for any feature that could cause sparking, the revised policy would allow some parts to have just one safeguard.

Boeing has worked closely with the FAA to make the change in time for the 787 Dreamliner, whose airframe built of composite plastic makes lightning protection a special challenge.

But the move has stirred intense opposition inside the local FAA office from the technical specialists — most of them former Boeing engineers — responsible for certifying new airplane designs.

The national union representing about 190 Seattle-based FAA engineers this past Tuesday submitted a formal critique to the agency, calling the new policy "an unjustified step backward in safety."

In a lightning storm, the critique said, the less stringent rules could leave a commercial airliner "one failure away from catastrophe."

FAA management, contradicting its own technical staff, argues that relaxing the spark-prevention standard is balanced by new technology to reduce fuel-tank flammability that will increase safety overall.

And Boeing experts insist the 787 will be safer in a lightning storm than any jet flying today.

Jim Hall, the former National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chairman who oversaw the TWA 800 investigation, said he's disappointed in the FAA but not surprised.

"It appears that management has overruled the judgment of the people that have day-to-day responsibility for the safety of aircraft," Hall said.

The TWA 800 rule

The average commercial airplane is hit by lightning about twice a year, Boeing estimates. A dangerous electrical spark may occur if current passing through an airframe reaches a small gap between metal parts and jumps across the gap.

Yet because of well-developed protection systems, it's been more than 45 years since a U.S. airliner was brought down by lightning.

The rules the FAA is now reinterpreting have been in place since 2001 after the investigation into the TWA 800 fuel-tank explosion that killed all 230 people on board the 747 jumbo jet.

While investigators concluded that the likely cause of the spark that triggered that explosion was faulty wiring, they set up standards to prevent fuel-tank ignition from any source, including a lightning storm.

The rules address two distinct areas: preventing sparks in the tank and reducing the flammability of the vapor inside the tank.

Current policy dictates that airplane engineers must design three independent layers of protection in any conceivable scenario that could produce a spark.

"To this day, we have not had one manufacturer that has been able to demonstrate compliance with that rule," said Ali Bahrami, head of the FAA's Seattle office dealing with commercial-airplane certification. "We decided it's time to re-evaluate our approach."

Airbus applied for certification of its newest plane, the A380, before the regulation, so it did not have to comply.

The FAA granted exemptions in 2006 and 2007 to plane makers Dassault Aviation, of France, and Hawker Beechcraft, of Wichita, Kan., allowing them to certify their Falcon 7X and Hawker 4000 business jets with only two independent layers of protection on the wing-skin fasteners.

In a detailed briefing on the 787's protection systems, two high-level Boeing lightning experts — who spoke on condition that they not be named — said the Dreamliner cannot meet the requirement.

"Boeing spent years trying to develop triple layers of structural lightning protection for every 787 fuel-tank fastener and joint, but we were unable to identify the technical means at many locations in the wings," one said.

The FAA will accept formal comments on the policy change through Feb. 13.

The critique submitted by the FAA certification engineers' union, the National Air Traffic Controllers Association union (NATCA), acknowledges that the existing regulation is strict.

It may have to be revised in some way, said one FAA certification specialist, who, like other agency engineers interviewed for this story, asked not to be named to avoid retribution.

"A bunch of us are in agreement as to how we can do that and maintain safety," he said. "But it's not what our management is trying to do in allowing catastrophic single failures."

Potential sparks

The new FAA policy memo identifies three places where the failure of a single protection measure could produce a gap where sparking might occur, though each is a remote possibility.

The concerned FAA engineers detailed where these three vulnerabilities are on the 787:

• The aluminum shear ties that attach the wing ribs to the spars could crack.

• A wing-skin fastener could break, popping the sealant on the head.

• On fasteners inside the fuel tank, a coat of sealant covering a gap between fastener head and sleeve could deteriorate.

The two Boeing lightning experts said the company has studied each of these scenarios closely.

Indeed, Boeing lightning lab tests in 2007 revealed an unexpected amount of sparking inside the 787's wing tank as then designed, caused by gaps between fastener heads and sleeves.

In response, Boeing's engineers turned around thousands of fasteners, putting the heads on the outside instead of inside the fuel tank. Following this redesign, engineers weighed the worst-case lightning threat at every location and demonstrated that there was sufficient margin to rule out sparking.

For those fasteners that couldn't be turned around, a brush coat of sealant was added as an extra precaution, the Boeing experts said.

"The issue is totally resolved now," one of the experts said.

Likewise, the Boeing engineers said, shear-tie cracks and broken fasteners have proven not susceptible to sparking under the worst-case level of lightning current.

"The level of detailed design, test, and analysis (in the 787's wing-tank lightning protection) ... is greater than has been conducted previously in aviation," one said.

Reducing vapor

The FAA claims the less stringent anti-sparking rule is balanced by an important new safety feature of the 787: its fuel-tank inerting system.

As the level of fuel inside the wing falls during flight, the system pumps inert (nonflammable) nitrogen gas into the space created. That hugely reduces the danger of flammable vapor.

When the original 2001 rule was written, the FAA stated that it would consider relaxing the ignition-source rules in the future if there was improvement in the technology to lower flammability — "such as full-time fuel-tank inerting."

By all accounts, the 787's inerting system is very effective. But there's a catch: The FAA is not requiring that it be "full time."

If a 787's inerting system breaks down, to save the expense of grounding the plane, an airline will be free to continue to operate it for 10 days while waiting for replacement parts.

That's despite an internal recommendation from one of Boeing's own safety-engineering team leaders in November 2005 that the 787's inerting system should be required to be working before takeoff.

During those 10 days, the possibility — however remote — of potential failures in the three areas with single anti-spark features looms as unacceptably dangerous to the FAA engineers represented by NATCA.

"This inerting system, if it was full time, it would definitely be an acceptable level of safety," said a second FAA engineer who has worked on the 787's certification.

But without that assurance, he said, to fly on a Dreamliner out of a lightning-prone airport in the summer is a risk he's not prepared to take.

"I wouldn't put my family on a 787 out of Miami," said the engineer, who formerly worked for Boeing.

In contrast, Boeing's 787 lightning-team leader sees the inerting system as a bonus safety feature rather than an essential requirement. He is willing to rely on Boeing's exhaustive testing of every potential spark point in the wing.

"I wouldn't hesitate to get on the plane," he said. "I know more about the structural protection on this airplane than I do on anything else we've ever built."

FAA, Boeing too close?

Tomaso DiPaolo, NATCA's aircraft-certification national representative, charges that when FAA engineers raised their safety concerns internally management simply removed them from the team developing the new policy.

The FAA ignored its own technical people, he said, while making sure Boeing agreed with the policy change.

"It's another example of the FAA getting too close to industry," said DiPaolo. "It appears that whatever Boeing wants, Boeing gets."

A Boeing internal document reviewed by The Seattle Times shows the company had a "team to assist FAA in wording of interpretation" of the lightning rule for the 787 as far back as August 2004, just eight months after the new jet program launched.

The FAA's Bahrami insisted that the policy change has been crafted to work for all airplane manufacturers with no special treatment of Boeing.

"Boeing is only one customer," Bahrami said.

Dominic Gates: 206-464-2963 or
Don't believe anything they say.
And at the same time,
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