The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) last week denied a 2013 petition to re-examine the causes of the July 1996 accident in which TWA Flight 800 exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean soon after takeoff from New York John F. Kennedy International Airport. A group called The TWA 800 Project filed the petition, claiming that a “detonation or high-velocity explosion” (possibly a missile) brought down the Boeing 747.
The NTSB, which had said last year that it was open to a presentation of new evidence, did assemble a team of investigators not previously involved with the investigation to consider The TWA 800 Project’s request. Before responding to the group’s petition, NTSB staff met with the petitioners’ representatives and listened to an eyewitness who described what he saw on the night of the accident. In response to a claim by one of the petitioners, the NTSB said the group relied on a subset of previously reported radar data consistent with its alternative crash explanation and concluded that this evidence was flawed.
After a thorough review of all the information provided by the petitioners, the NTSB denied the petition in its entirety, arguing that the evidence and analysis presented did not show the original findings to be incorrect.
In the NTSB final report on the crash, adopted on Aug. 23, 2000, the Board determined that fuel vapors in the 747’s center fuel tank exploded after a shorted electrical wire provided the spark.