THE TWA 747-100 accident on 17 July marks the first fatal crash for the airline in a decade. The last incident occurred in April 1986, when a terrorist bomb exploded on board a Boeing 727 inbound to Athens, killing four passengers, although the aircraft landed safely.

Excluding terrorist action, the airline has had a clean sheet for over 21 years, since a 727 crashed near Washington DC in September 1974. One of the carrier's Lockheed TriStars was destroyed in July 1992 after an aborted take-off from JFK airport New York, but with no fatalities.

The aircraft involved in the latest accident (registration N93119 line No 153), was the youngest in TWA's fleet of ten 747-100s and powered by the Pratt & Whitney JT9D-7A.

The crashed aircraft had completed over 92,000 flight hours, and around 17,000 flight cycles. A "C-check" maintenance overhaul was carried out about three weeks before the crash. Almost 1,100 747s have been delivered since the first in December 1969, and nine aircraft have been involved in fatal accidents, excluding terrorist actions. According to London, UK-based aviation consultancy Airclaims, the world fleet has completed around 5.5 million flights since the last fatal accident involving passengers (excluding terrorist action).

Source: Flight International