WASHINGTON, D.C.: The National Transportation Safety Board
stuck to its
guns today, ruling that ValuJet Flight 592 which plunged into a Florida swamp was brought down by a fire ignited by loaded chemical oxygen
generators. The NTSB was even-handed in aportioning blame, saying
SabreTech, ValuJet and the FAA are all partially responsible for the disaster,
which killed 105 passengers and five crew members last year. According to the report, SabreTech helped cause the accident by failing to properly package and
identify the hazardous oxygen generators. ValuJet was slammed for
improperly overseeing the maintenance contractor while the FAA was charged with not requiring smoke detection and fire extinguishing equipment in the plane's cargo hold.
But Bert Werjefelt, an inventor of certified aviation safety equipment who performed his own investigation, tells TIME Daily that faulty wiring caused the blaze. And he believes old wiring puts as many as 2,000 similar commercial planes at risk.
The inventor presented his findings to NTSB technical staffers last Friday. But the information was rejected — even though it was backed up by Vernon Gross, a former NTSB board member who also believes the ValuJet crash was caused by an electrical fire. Werjefelt says the industry has lobbied against his recommendation to replace aging wires. "Replacing that wiring would cost airlines about as much as it would for them to buy new planes," says Werjefelt.