June 20, 2013

Aviation investigators are lobbying the National Transportation Safety Board to reopen the case on what caused TWA Flight 800 to crash off the coast of Long Island. More than 200 people were killed in the 1996 crash, which federal authorities concluded was the result of a center fuel-tank explosion. However, new FAA radar evidence that indicates an external force caused the explosion has prompted the former investigators to ask for the case to be reviewed further. The NTSB, which took four years to investigate the crash, said it is considering the request.


"Federal officials are weighing a request to reopen the investigation of the 1996 explosion and crash of TWA Flight 800 that went down off the coast of Long Island, killing all 230 people aboard.

A group of former investigators, interviewed in a documentary to be released next month, have petitioned the National Transportation Safety Board for the new probe. They argue that new evidence shows that an external force, from something such as a rocket or missile, may have brought down the Boeing 747 minutes after it left New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.

The petition claims “new analyses of the FAA radar evidence demonstrate that the explosion that caused the crash did not result from a low-velocity fuel-air explosion as the NTSB has determined. Rather, it was caused by a detonation or high-velocity explosion.”

The theory of such a strike was heavily investigated by the FBI and other agencies at the time and found to be unsupported. The NTSB eventually determined that a center fuel tank had exploded when an electrical short-circuit caused a spark.

Tom Stalcup, a coproducer of the documentary to be aired on the cable TV premium channel Epix next month, told CNN’s morning show ”New Day” that there was radar and other evidence for an external explosion."

The LAT reports that it usually takes 60 days for the agency to make its determination.

With spending by government agencies under such close scrutiny these days, I wonder if costs could become an issue before a decision is reached on reopening the case; the original NTSB probe was one of the most complex and expensive that the agency has ever done.

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