TWA 747 crash - flight 800 (JFK-CDG)

From:         kls@ohare.Chicago.COM (Karl Swartz)
Organization: Chicago Software Works, Menlo Park, California
Date:         18 Jul 96 01:59:28 
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A TWA 747-100 exploded about 15 minutes after departing New York's JFK
on a flight to Paris-CDG this evening, with wreckage falling into the
water about 20 miles south of Mariches Inlet on Long Island, 40 miles
east of JFK.  Flight 800, scheduled to depart at 700p, took off just
before 830p, and controllers in Boston reportedly lost contact with
the flight at 840p when it was at an altitude of approximately 7,500

Reports vary on how many people were about but the most reliable story
seems to be 229, 212 passengers, 14 flight attendents, and three pilots.
According to TWA, a flight to Rome was cancelled or delayed and passen-
gers from that flight were protected on flight 800.  It's not clear if
this means there may have been more than 229 people aboard or not; it
may account for the late departure.

US Coast Guard boats and helicopters searching the area, hampered some-
what by night and fog, had already recovered some bodies and body parts.
There were reports of life rafts in the water but these apparently were
dropped by the USCG and did not come from the TWA plane.  A Coast Guard
spokesman offered little hope of finding any survivors.

The phone number for information on friends or relatives aboard the
flight is 1-800/438-9892, or call TWA reservations at 1-800/221-2000.
They don't have much info yet, though.

The aircraft had been at JFK for three hours after arriving from Athens
operating flight 881.  It was reported as a 747-100, but I don't have
any information yet as to which one it was.  In particular, I don't
know if it's the one that recently passed the 100,000 flight hour mark,
apparently a record for any aircraft.

According to last year's JP Airline Fleets, accurate through March 1995,
TWA operated 10 747-100s (and three 747-200Bs).  Eight were -131 models
built for TWA in 1970 and 1971; the other two were -156 models built
for Iberia originally and acquired by TWA in 1980 and 1981.  All ten
747-100s were configured with two-class seating, 29 F and 396 Y, a total
of 425.  With 212 passengers, that's a 50% load factor, stunningly low
in a summer when many trans-Atlantic flights are sold out in all classes
well in advance.

TWA's 1995 Annual Report shows only 11 747s at the close of 1995, (both
retirements were 747-100s, I believe) with plans to increase that to 16
by the end of this year through purchases of used aircraft.  One "new"
747-100 was added earlier this month, an ex-Continental (People Express
before CO and originally Alitalia) 747-143, but it's unlikely it would
have entered TWA service already.

The $64,000 question ... what happened?  Nobody knows yet, and with the
debris underwater the investigation will not be easy.  Obviously there
is lots of speculation about a bomb (fueled no doubt by the fact that
the aircraft had come in from Athens, which has a poor security rating)
but at this point it's just that, speculation.  One former NTSB official
on this evening's news said it did NOT appear to be a bomb, in his
opinion.  I didn't catch the whole reasoning, unfortunately.

All of this came just hours after TWA announced 2nd quarter earnings of
$25.3 million or 46 cents per share, up 387% percent from $5.2 million
in last year's 2nd quarter.  (The result was still well below analysts'
estimates of about 65 cents per share.)

Karl Swartz	|Home
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