A worldwide inspection of electrical wiring inside the wing fuel tanks of early Boeing 747s, such as the one involved in the explosion and crash of Trans World Airlines Flight 800, found numerous hidden wiring problems that might have caused explosions if left undetected, according to Federal Aviation Administration officials.
FAA officials said they believe the problem could have played a role in the Flight 800 crash off Long Island, which killed 230 people last year on July 17.
But an official with the National Transportation Safety Board said it is only one of many possibilities being explored.
Despite a yearlong investigation, investigators still do not know why the center fuel tank of TWA 800 exploded.
Theories of a possible bomb or missile are fading, however, in favor of a mechanical explanation.
All the explosive tests requested by the FBI in the crash investigation have been concluded without any new evidence pointing to a missile or bomb in the crash, moving the FBI closer to dropping its criminal probe, bureau officials said Tuesday.
Nonetheless, the many precautionary 747 inspections prompted by the TWA crash did find some chafed wires and numerous damaged protective conduits in early versions of one of the world’s most popular long-distance airliners..
None of the wiring had burned through its protective aluminum cover to expose the wires to explosive fuel vapors, and officials stressed that all damaged wiring has now been replaced.