Dear Captain Lim,
Thank you very much for your answers to lots of questions about flying. It does help me fight my fear of flying again. However, recently I read an article of CNN.com on *Planes still flying with same problem as TWA 800* and I am nervous again. Especially this paragraph: *While the FAA has not yet made a final decision, Boeing, which has built nearly three-fourths of the jetliners in use around the world, told CNN it will install a nitrogen safety system on its new planes -- with or without an FAA mandate -- because it is "the right thing to do."*
Does that mean right now it is in the wrong? I am worried about this.
Should I take Airbus instead? Or Maybe Boeing 777 is totally different from Boeing 747 series, thus is not under that threat? Pease help me figure this out; I am about to buy a ticket by next Tuesday. I have to choose which Airline to take me back to China (either Airbus340-300 or B777-200ER, after ruling out B747-400 by myself).
Yes, in the TWA 800 problem, the FAA had determined that the Boeing 747 was the victim of a center fuel tank explosion, most likely caused by a spark in its vapor-filled center tank.
The Boeing 747 plane involved was in fact the first variant, designated as B747-100, built in 1971, not the later generation B747-400, which most people would be flying on today.
FAA now wants all large US jetliners to be equipped with a nitrogen safety system to prevent similar explosions by removing oxygen from fuel tanks. This would effectively require the new safety system to be fitted in all new planes coming off the assembly line, as well as the retrofitting of about 3,800 other large jets.
Many airlines had opposed the FAA*s recommendation and stated that its statistical assumption ? "without its recommended safety changes, four more TWA-type disasters are likely to happen over the next 50 years" - was ?fatally flawed?.
Boeing said that none of the recovered fuel system components showed any evidence of having sparked the events suspected of blowing up the airliner. Similarly, no evidence was found that any of the B747-100*s fuel quantity indicators, probes or wiring was the culprits. Nevertheless, the investigation had prompted some improvements in design, maintenance and/or inspection across the Boeing fleet. So it appears that there is still a lingering doubt as to the actual cause of the spark that led to the crash.
Of course, I believe what Boeing had told CNN that it would install a nitrogen safety system on all its new planes because it is "the right thing to do" is obviously a public relation exercise to promote the future sales of their Boeing planes, especially the Boeing 787 and B747-8 planes.
I cannot comment on as to whether they are now in the right or wrong but I think Boeing planes are just as safe any other planes around ? and I am happy with the Boeing 777 that I have flown for the last 8 years or more now.
You should not be worried whether you are going to fly a Airbus A340, a Boeing 777 or even the Boeing 747-400. They are all equally safe as I often tell fearful flyers in my site that flying in the modern commercial jetliners is very safe ? you have about one in 12 million chances of getting involved in fatal air accident. I will fly on any of them as I am not worried at all :-)!