Associated Retired Aviation Professionals 

April 13, 2001

An explosion that destroyed a Boeing 737 last month on the ground in Bangkok 
was caused by the same problem that downed TWA Flight 800 off the coast of 
New York in 1996, according to preliminary evidence. A Thai Airways 
International 737 burst into flames March 3. Investigators (the article 
should point out that these 'investigators' were the FBI ones) found no 
evidence of a bomb and traced the blast to the center fuel tank, the U.S. 
National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday. The NTSB is assisting 
Thai authorities because of the board's expertise. A flight attendant aboard 
the jet died. The jet's cockpit voice recorder captured the sounds of the 
explosion. The NTSB said those sounds "are similar" to noises recorded in the 
explosion of the center fuel tank on a Philippine Airlines 737 in 1990. Last 
year, the NTSB ruled that TWA's 747 broke apart from a center tank explosion. 
All 230 people aboard died. In that explosion, the NTSB suspected frayed 
wiring or one of several other sources led to a spark in the hot fuel vapors. 
The safety board has recommended steps to reduce the chances that tanks can 
explode. For example, the NTSB said that air conditioning systems be switched 
off on the ground. The air conditioning units emit heat, which can cause the 
fuel in the tank to vaporize and become explosive. Last May, Boeing also 
warned its customers in a letter to switch off air conditioning on the 
ground. In both the TWA and Thai accidents, air conditioning systems adjacent 
to the center tank in the jets were turned on. The NTSB said the Thai jet's 
air conditioning system had been operating for about 40 minutes on the 
ground. The temperature was in the 90s. It could not be learned why Thai 
Airways had not heeded Boeing's advice. 

Commentary by Mike Hull:  I wonder if the Thai authorities believe the CWT story?  After all their investigators found explosives on the plane before the FBI brought in its 'experts'. Further the Thai Prime Minister was about to board the flight! 

Sounds like a premature bomb explosion to me. 

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