Embry-Riddle Seniors To Model TWA 800 Wreckage


While we know what happened to bring down TWA Flight 800 in 1996, two Embry-Riddle seniors are undertaking a project to “create an interactive 3D computer model of the wreckage of TWA Flight 800 for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB),” according to the school. Piper Forcier and Eli Murphy have been tabbed by the NTSB on the project, even though the school says the safety board originally intended to hire only one intern. 

Forcier and Murphy’s project will employ “cutting-edge 3D scanning and drone-acquired photogrammetry to produce images that can be combined into a 3D computer model and fly-through, allowing students in accident investigation courses to view and possibly interact with a digital duplication of the crash,” according to ERAU. The school recently acquired the same laser scanner the NTSB uses.

“I think this project will help students like me in the future,” said Forcier. “It will be nice to see how we can document and conduct aircraft crash investigation in the virtual realm.” For his part, Murphy says he had already been considering using drones to created 3D imagery of accident scenes. “It piqued my interest even more,” he said, adding that “with TWA 800 being such a significant part of history, I was super excited about taking part in this.”

“I consider this an excellent opportunity for these students to be on the forefront of the industry,” said Ed Coleman, director of the Robertson Safety Institute and chair and associate professor of the Department of Safety Science. “Having experience with this will give them a leg-up for sure and, depending on their career field, could actually be a big benefit to a future employer who might not be aware of the technology.”

“Both of you had such impressive qualifications and outstanding enthusiasm to match,” said NTSB Training Center Director Paula Sind-Prunier, in a message to the students.

Marc Cook
KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.

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  1. What a wonderful opportunity and with the advancement of technology future accidents will be analyzed quickly and more efficentally (but on a sidebar note the NTSB does an outstanding job.) What I don’t want to see is this silliness of a “missile” brought it down. That is nothing but sleazy tabloid gossip news that should be left at the check-out stand or those fools over on the “Above Top Secret” web page that has blasted me in the past.

  2. Sorry Ed K, but I am with the missile group along with thousands of others.
    Tens of thousands of 747 flights have been flown with empty center tanks with NO problems as we all know – but, only THIS one?? ha