Some 230 passengers and crew members died when TWA Flight 800 suffered an explosion and crashed soon after taking off from New York's JFK Airport on July 17, 1996—but the wreckage of the Boeing 747-100 has likely saved countless other lives over the following decades. The National Transportation Safety Board has used the reconstructed wreckage as a training tool for thousands of crash investigators and other safety experts, though it says it now plans to decommission the reconstruction ahead of the 25th anniversary of the crash, ABC News reports. The NTSB says the lease on the warehouse at its Virginia training center is expiring and "advances in investigative techniques such as 3-D scanning and drone imagery" mean a large-scale reconstruction is no longer such a necessary teaching aid.
The wreckage recovered from the ocean floor off Long Island was used for training after a four-year investigation determined that the probable cause of the crash was an explosion in the center wing fuel tank caused by faulty wiring, NBC New York reports. The NTSB says it promised the victims' families that the wreckage would never be an exhibit or public display. "To honor this agreement ... the NTSB will work closely with a federal government contractor to dismantle the reconstruction and destroy the wreckage," the NTSB said in a press release. The agency says that after the wreckage is taken out of service on July 7, it will spend weeks documenting the reconstruction. ABC notes that while the wreckage was never on public display, family members were allowed to visit and leave mementos in their loved ones' seats. (Read more TWA Flight 800 stories.)