Boeing 737s Grounded

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Seattle, we have a problem…. Last week Continental Airlines mechanics found that fuel leaks in a wing tank had turned a Boeing 737 into a TWA 800 waiting to happen. The FAA ordered a nationwide check of the first two generations of the popular airliner, and after 14 further cases of dangerous wear in wires near fuel tanks were found in older 737s, the federal body yesterday grounded all 737-100s operating in the U.S. Experts believe that the problem is caused by engine vibrations on older versions of the 737.

More than 100,000 passengers a day will be left stranded by the order as airlines, caught off guard, scramble for parts to rewire the 179 Boeing 737-100s still operating in the U.S. Airlines were also given two weeks to investigate similar problems in 737-200s. So while the reasons for the TWA 800 explosion may remain shrouded in mystery, on one score there's no doubt: The tragedy has certainly made flying a lot safer.