Monday, July 30, 2007

Hannity and Flight 800

New York Newsday:
Yet 11 years after the center fuel tank of TWA Flight 800 caught fire, killing 230 people, the Federal Aviation Administration still does not require commercial jetliners to carry devices to make the fuel in their tanks inert, and Hurd is angry about it.
He has that right, his son died on the flight. As for those of us not directly affected this is perhaps more a curiosity.

Normally air disasters prompt a substantial knee-jerk, first from the NTSB then from the FAA, who ultimately may issue directives or advisories followed by fleet retrofitting, all designed to mitigate future recurrences. But not in this case. Indeed the NTSB's recommedations remain "open unacceptable".

In the litigation-crazy world of aviation one might think this 'oversight' represents gobs of low-hanging liability fruit. The answer might lie in statistics. See, up until flight 800 no other US commercial jet had ever disintegrated itself due to a fuel tank explosion while in-flight. The odds simply don't favor another recurrence, or if you prefer, the first occurrence.

There are conspiracies galore attempting to explain this rarity, perhaps more than any crash prior to 9/11. There have also been a few books and mainstream exposes over the years, most recently on the cable show "Seconds from Disaster". CNN also did a feature last year on the 10th anniversary, both pooh-poohing everything but the probable cause.

On Sunday night Sean Hannity featured the crash on his "Hannity's America" program. He devoted all of about six or seven minutes to the segment, which was not nearly enough to explain such an issue. For brevity's sake we'll try not to waste seven minutes of your time in proving the piece was a worthless piece of crap due to his avoidance of just about every compelling reason why some believe the crash was not a spontaneous fuel tank explosion. If you feel compelled to waste more time on the subject the links above are recommended, or simply click the tag here.

Actually, six or seven minutes would have been enough had he just focused on the most obvious oddity--the backdrop graphic used throughout the piece that said "CIA Animation" seen above. A clever (or brave) host might have simply asked why the CIA was involved in explaining a civil air crash and whether that's ever happened before. Precedent would suggest Langley has no statutory authority in civilian crashes nor would they in domestic terrorism cases. He could have asked George Tenet why he forgot to mention 800 in his lengthy book, or why the infamous "Wall" of separation between CIA and FBI was temporarily suspended.

"Why dwell on such things"? Fair question. We all prefer truth over truthiness and my knowledge of aviation is just enough to make me dangerous. There's also the guilty pleasure of watching the "9/11 truthers" foam at the mouth over melted Trade Center steel while expressing not one whit of interest in the first passenger jet to ever spontaneously explode then be explained away by the very organization they blame for our current blow back.

Alright, yes, there's obviously a political component since if the crash was actually a covered-up terrorist attack it would shine new energy efficient light on the road taken to arrive at our current predicament, a road paved with players who aspire to re-enter the palace gates.

But the old saying "be careful what you wish for" has some basis. As Mac Ranger once opined, there are certain events that can be classified loosely as "for the greater good" where the truth might actually do more damage than the cover-up. Such a precept might well explain what's going on here.

So, barring any unforeseen major blockbuster revelations about 800 (which are about as likely as a DoD press conference announcing the truth about space aliens) it's time to move along. Hopefully the victims' families can live with the explanations they've been given. And we can also hope that it doesn't happen again before the 'needed repairs' are completed. Ahem.

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