Aviation Attorney Again Raises The Possibility Of A Fuel Explosion
PHILADELPHIA -- August 9, 1996 -- "If you haven't found chemical residue by now, it's unlikely that a bomb downed TWA Flight 800," says Arthur Alan Wolk, a nationally-known aviation attorney, pilot and frequent media consultant about air crash causes. In fact, since the day after the accident, Wolk has consistently stated that investigators should be looking at the fuel system as the cause of the 230 deaths in TWA 800.
It was reported in The Seattle Times that the jet (flying that day as TWA 800) served a year-long stint with the Iranian military, alongside another 747 later destroyed near Madrid in a mid-air explosion -- much like the one that downed TWA Flight 800 off Long Island. It was thought that the Madrid crash was caused by a fuel system explosion. As a result, Boeing upgraded the fuel systems in 747-100s. Yet TWA Flight 800 was then a military aircraft, so the upgrades weren't required. But whether -- when the plane passed back into civilian service, it was upgraded or not -- we don't yet know. Neither do we know whether the upgrade was effective in correcting the explosion potential in 747-100s generally.
Another point persuasive in the theory that the crash of Flight 800 may have been caused by a fuel system explosion, rather than a bomb: witnesses report a long plume of fire. Some thought this was the trail of an anti-aircraft missile. It could also be seen as a stream of leaking fuel misting behind the plane just before being ignited by engine exhaust -- thus causing the explosion that downed the plane.
"It is no coincidence," says Wolk, "that in 1995 Boeing recommended the examination of in-tank fuel pumps to avoid fires which they knew could cause an explosion like TWA 800."