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Deadly Departure: Why the Experts Failed to Prevent the TWA Flight 800 Disaster and How It Could Happen Again Paperback – April 3, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Revised edition (April 3, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060932651
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060932657
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,758,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Though it can be classified as airplane reading, you may not want to bring Deadly Departure with you on your next flight. In this gripping story of the investigation of the crash of TWA Flight 800, aviation correspondent Christine Negroni guides the reader through the intricacies of the U.S. government's most expensive crash investigation to date. Personal stories of passengers, their families, crash investigators, rescue workers, conspiracy theorists, and employees of Boeing and TWA underpin Negroni's account of the investigation as a catalog of conflict, incompetence, and deceit. She concludes that, contrary to the claims of aircraft manufacturers, fuel tank explosions are a real danger, but one that lies within the range of acceptable risk for both the industry and the Federal Aviation Authority.
If there was a conspiracy to hide the truth about what really happened to Flight 800, it began long before the crash, and it wasn't an effort to cover up action, it was a conspiracy of inaction. Although the newspapers were filled with experts insisting planes don't just fall out of the sky and fuel tank explosions can't bring down an airplane, insiders knew different.
If you have followed the strange and sad saga of TWA 800's mysterious end and its aftermath, Negroni's book is for you. --Julia Riches --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

What caused the tragedy of TWA fligiht 800, which exploded over Long Island Sound in 1996? Negroni, who covered the story for CNN, has a credible theory for what went wrong and how it could have been prevented. She also analyzes the misunderstandings, snafus and buck-passing that hindered the inquiry into the cause of the explosion. Flight 800 left New York with its side fuel tanks full and its center tank not quite empty. Negroni contends that the center tank blew up, ignited by a faulty electrical system. She combines interviews with experts, aviation history and relevant principles of engineering to buttress her theory. According to Negroni, nitrogen-based "fuel tank inerting" systems have prevented similar fires on other aircraft and, modified correctly, could have saved Flight 800. But Negroni's work is hardly a technical textbook. The gruesomely fascinating tale is enlivened with capsule bios of doomed passengers and crew, scientists, National Transportation Safety Board personnel and many others. Negroni likes to pretend to read dead people's minds ("It occurred to him often how much he'd been blessed," she writes of one TWA pilot) and "reconstructs" plenty of conversations. Fortunately, she maintains typographic distinctions between the quotes she reports and those she makes up. Briefer, racier and far more readable than Pat Milton's In the Blink of an Eye (which focused on the FBI investigators), this study is aimed not only at disaster buffs, but at readers curious about aviation, engineering, forensics, journalism, politics and the hot spots where all these interests collide. 31 b&w photos and diagrams. (Mar.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Christine's voice regarding the tragedy is resonant about TWA Flight 800.
Kathy
Disappointedly, her approach to the issues is a little sensationalistic and avoids some obvious facts which detract from the truly emotional issues.
Joe Ruszczyk
I really enjoyed the way the author pulled the many different story lines together into a coherent, comprehensive story.
visionary

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Mcgivern Owen L on July 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
It's strange how many "unhelpful " internal amazon votes "Deadly Departure" has generated. I'm attributing that to the reality that the subject matter, the investigation and aftermath of TWA Flight #800, is so highly emotional. We amazon types obviously care about how our peers rate DD. Give author Negroni credit: She attempted to get her arms around a challenging, difficult and technical story. 4 stories are interspersed: There are vignettes of various passengers and crew. Then there are the fringe personalities-Governor Pataki, Rudy Giuliani, George Marlin (remember HIM?) and folks of that ilk-each with an "agenda". She writes of the unfortunate bureaucratic fighting and turf protecting among such agencies as the FBI and National Transportation Safety Board. And finally she covers the technical aspects-especially the role of a potentially lethal empty center fuel tank on a 747. I give the author "A" for effort in attempting to tie so many ends together; all in a brief, large print 237-page hardcover tale. I would have decidedly preferred it if she had concentrated more on the ongoing investigations and technical aspects of the disaster. That's because the personal stories require space and a longer plot. Given the hideously serious nature of the crash, more light should be shed upon 1) the documented dangers of the fuel tanks-the military took corrective action concerning them that the cowardly Federal Aviation Administration has not for civil planes. 2) The hostile role of the FBI and its' refusal to cooperate with the NTSB. Thank God lead agent James Kallstrom has retired. 3) The future: the FAA must simply stop the practice of "counting tombstones". The idea that "it's better to have an occasional crash than pay for expensive safety changes" is disgraceful and immoral.Read more ›
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 15, 2000
Format: Hardcover
An exceptionally well written account of what is a tragic, mysterious and fascinating airline accident. The author does a comprehensive job reporting and explaining the circumstances of the convoluted investigative process that followed the TWA 800 accident. "Deadly Departure" also introduces the reader to some of the backgrounds' of the victims, their families and those involved with the crash to this day. The countless research time and painstaking accuracy which support this book are quite apparent. As an aviation safety professional, I often find myself especially critical of aviation reporting. In this case, my fastidious criticism yields a "must read" recommendation.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Joe Ruszczyk on March 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Negroni provides us with an unsettling look at alleged shortfalls in airline safety, the politics of the business, and the friction between investigative government agencies. Disappointedly, her approach to the issues is a little sensationalistic and avoids some obvious facts which detract from the truly emotional issues. In example, the book ignores the changeover to a less volatile fuel by both the military and commercial airlines which weakens many of the fuel tank as the cause theories. Still, "Deadly Departure" does provide some new and interesting assumptions.
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22 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Duwayne Anderson on July 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
When TWA flight 800 exploded shortly after takeoff on July 17, 1996, the immediate speculation centered around a terrorist attack. This premature conclusion was based on some eyewitness accounts and political circumstances that fomented such speculation. Christine, though, shows how careful examination of the wreckage has shown, almost conclusively, that the airliner was brought down not by a terrorist bomb or missile, but by an explosion in the nearly empty center wing tank.
Christine writes her book in the style of an investigative reporter, with windows into the lives of many of the people connected with this tragedy. You come to know many of the victims, the crew, and investigators as she threads her way through the tangled story.
Having a somewhat technical background, I found myself frequently wishing the author had included more engineering detail in her narrative. I think the average reader, however, will find the level about right - especially those who tend to focus more on the human element than the engineering issues.
Christine's main thesis is that an explosion in the nearly empty center fuel tank brought down the jetliner, that Boeing and the FAA had reason to know a design defect could cause such an explosion, that they chose economy over saving people's lives, and that it's bound to happen again.
The first of these claims has been born out and accepted by the scientific investigation of the crash. Having exhausted all the other possibilities (including missiles and bombs) the investigators have concluded with high probability that the explosion resulted from faulty wiring and a volatile mixture of fumes and air in the center wing tank. The second claim also seems to be established.
Read more ›
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 12, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Christine Negroni has written a spellbinding account of the TWA flight 800 disaster. While the outcome is known before you begin the book, she successfully weaves together all of the different strands of this disaster -- from the technical, to the human interest, the inter-agency rivalry, and the painstaking detective work. The book will appeal to the lay reader who is not an expert in aviation safety. Given the prevalence of conspiracy theorists who are anxious to debunk this book (and any responsible theories about this disaster) I would read any negative reviews with a huge grain of salt. Read the book and come to your own conclusions. You will be glad you did.
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