NTSB: Our TWA Flight 800 Conclusion Stands

Says petition failed to prove original findings were wrong, won't reopen probe

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 3, 2014 6:31 AM CDT

(Newser) – Last year, a group of former US investigators including former NTSB investigator Henry Hughes petitioned the NTSB to re-open the investigation into the 1996 crash of TWA Flight 800, but the agency yesterday announced it had "denied the petition in its entirety." The petitioners argued that the crash was not caused, as the NTSB concluded in 2000, by a fuel tank explosion, but rather was likely brought down by a bomb or missile. But the NTSB did a "thorough review" of the petitioners' information and found no evidence the original fuel tank explanation was wrong, Reuters reports.

The NTSB notes that the investigators who looked into the petition were not associated with the original investigation, which remains "one of the largest transportation accident investigations in US history." Those investigators found that an analysis of radar evidence provided by the petitioners was flawed, and that witness summaries the petitioners provided from the FBI criminal probe of the crash—which ended in 1997 after finding no evidence of a crime—weren't much different from the witness summaries the NTSB reviewed at the time. The board also notes that the original investigation found no evidence of missile fragments. A member of the TWA 800 Project, the group behind the petition, tells the Los Angeles Times, "This is not the end of the road by any means," though he did not discuss possible next steps.

An inscription etched in marble is shown at the TWA Flight 800 International Memorial at Smith Point County Park on Fire Island, NY, Friday, July 5, 2013.
An inscription etched in marble is shown at the TWA Flight 800 International Memorial at Smith Point County Park on Fire Island, NY, Friday, July 5, 2013.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
In this July 18, 1996 file photo, a piece of debris from TWA flight 800 floats in the Atlantic Ocean off Long Island, NY.
In this July 18, 1996 file photo, a piece of debris from TWA flight 800 floats in the Atlantic Ocean off Long Island, NY.   (AP Photo/File)
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