For nearly two decades, the wreckage from the TWA Flight 800 tragedy has sat in a huge Ashburn warehouse. The reconstructed aircraft has been used by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in its training courses. Now, the agency has announced that it will decommission the reconstruction, document each and every piece with high-tech computer equipment and then destroy the remains of the aircraft.
“The reconstruction, housed in the 30,000 square foot hangar along with other training tools at the NTSB’s Training Center, has been used in the NTSB’s accident investigation training courses for nearly 20 years,” the announcement reads. “However, advances in investigative techniques such as 3-D scanning and drone imagery, lessen the relevance of the large-scale reconstruction in teaching modern investigative techniques.”
As most Americans know, on July 17, 1996, TWA 800 took off from New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport bound for Paris. Moments after take off, it exploded over the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast. 230 passengers and crew lost their lives in one of the deadliest aviation accidents in U.S. history. A four-year investigation determined an electrical failure had caused an explosion in the center wing fuel tank.
The NTSB plans to stop using the reconstruction in July. Then it will use 3D scanners to document the wreckage before dismantling and destroying it.
“When the NTSB moved the reconstruction to the Training Center, it did so with the stipulation that it would be used solely as a training resource and never as an exhibit or public display,” the NTSB statement reads. “To honor this agreement made with the families of the victims of TWA Flight 800, the NTSB will work closely with a federal government contractor to dismantle the reconstruction and destroy the wreckage.”
(Image at top: NTSB)