July 26, 1996
Mr. Robert Francis, Vice Chairman
National Transportation Safety Board
800 Independence Ave., S. W.
WASHINGTON, D. C. 20594
Dear Mr. Francis:
I am responding to your televised request for information about possible causes leading up to the crash of TWA Flight 800.
It has been common knowledge among professionals in the industry for many years that most airliners, particularly the wide bodies, have been operated on the ragged edge of tire technology. The criticality of exceeding tire temperature limits of heavily laden transports during a high-speed take-off roll is not unusual. The JFK airport pot-holed runways would exacerbate an already critical hot tire condition, and it is very probable that a tire fire/explosion could ensue as the wheels retracted into close proximity to hydraulic lines, fuel lines and full fuel tanks. We all know that the explosive force of a tire burst would seriously damage all of these elements which could culminate in the fire ball explosion seen by eye witnesses. The retrieval of the landing gear and wheels will reveal the condition of the tires or remnants thereof and possibly confirm the validity of my assessment.
I wish you luck in retrieving the landing gear and compliment you on your management of a very difficult investigation.
I look forward to your response in due course.
Thank you and best regards.
THE BURNELLI COMPANY, INC.
Chalmers H. Goodlin
Chairman and President