NTSB Asked To Reopen TWA800 Investigation

 - June 24, 2013, 2:55 PM
Much of the Boeing 747 was reconstructed during the investigation into the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800 soon after takeoff from New York’s JFK International Airport.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) received a petition June 19 to reconsider its investigation of the July 17, 1996 crash of TWA 800, a Boeing 747 that exploded while climbing toward Paris shortly after takeoff from New York JFK International Airport. The petition was initiated by a group of people tied to a new documentary film called TWA800, due for release next month on the Epix cable channel. The NTSB said a petition to reconsider the investigation must be based upon new evidence or a finding of error in the original report. After four years of work on the case, the NTSB final report concluded that ignition of fumes inside an empty center fuel tank caused the accident. The documentary claims a missile–or missiles–launched from the nearby Long Island shore or a boat were responsible for bringing the aircraft down. The NTSB investigation initially considered a missile strike, but eventually found no evidence to support the theory. The film infers that the government has been covering up the real cause of the accident for the past 17 years, although it does not explain why. Dialog in the rough cut of the film says NTSB inspectors were never allowed to interview any of the 100 or so eyewitnesses who claimed to have seen something like a missile leave the shore that night headed toward the 747. Kelly Nantel, the NTSB’s chief of public affairs, told AIN, “That’s not accurate. The NTSB did interview a number of witnesses.” The film also infers that FBI agents interfered with the NTSB investigation from the moment it began. Nantel responded, “The investigation was complicated. There was a belief early on that [the TWA 800 accident] was a criminal investigation, which of course made it the jurisdiction of the FBI, which is why they took the lead. When it became apparent this was an accident and not a crime, the NTSB took over.”