The recent bridge collapse in Minneapolis has been fueling the 24-hour news networks over the past week. One of the stories that's being pushed constantly is the NTSB's work to understand the root cause of the bridge's failure.
In an effort to fill up more TV time, the networks are running shows about the TWA flight 800 disaster. Remember that one? Where a Boeing 747 took off for Europe but exploded during it's ascent. The final report indicated that faulty wiring allowed high voltage to flow into a fuel level sensor that ignited vapor in the main tanks inside the fuselage causing a massive explosion.
Great job, NTSB! That was some 10 years ago. You'd expect the following to have happened since:
- Mandated wiring retrofits on existing aircraft, especially the Boeing 747
- New regulations on wiring design
- New regulations that require fuel tanks to neutralize explosive vapors
Okay, now the punchline: not only has the government done none of the above, but explosions in other Boeing aircraft this year have highlighted this ongoing problem. One is forced to ask: what the hell good is the NTSB and the FAA if all they can do is tell us why something happened--but not have the ability to help prevent it in the future?