Nightly News   |  June 19, 2013

New film questions TWA 800 explosion

A former NTSB investigator has joined an independent filmmaker and others in petitioning the NTSB to reexamine what brought down TWA flight 800 nearly 17 years ago. At the time, investigators concluded an explosion inside the plane’s fuel tank caused the crash, but now there are allegations that the original investigation was botched. NBC’s Tom Costello reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> a new look into the explosion that brought down into twa flight 800 , 17 years ago now. the plane left jfk airport bound for paris and went down 12 miles out over the atlantic ocean . the calls for the new investigation coincide with a new film about flight 800 . and they revive a theory that's been largely discredited.

>> reporter: july 17, 1996 .

>> flight 800 en route tonight from jfk airport to charles de gaulle airport in paris, france, has exploded in mid air.

>> reporter: all 230 people on board twa 800 died when their plane exploded 12 miles off long island. there were eyewitness reports of one or more missiles in the sky. forensic teams reasem sembled the plane in a warehouse. it was conclude thad an electrical short had touched off a fuel vapor explosion in the central fuel tank .

>> explosion, is that correct?

>> yes, sir, it blew up in the air and i saw two fireballs go down into the water.

>> reporter: a new film claims that the government ignored or covered up evidence of a missile.

>> i believe that the twa flight 800 exploded as a result of explosion exterior from the outside of the aircraft.

>> hank hughes joined by former investigators of the twa, chief medical examiner and outside forensics consultant. veteran aviation correspondent robert hager covered the investigation.

>> the key piece of who really knew what they were talking about, they were unanimous in their opinion that it could not have been a missile or a bomb.

>> there was no cover up and i don't think it was completely botched.

>> reporter: tom, the head of ntsb major vegsgations at the time.

>> no evidence of anything from the outside penetrating through the tank, no evidence of bobbmb inside. you don't see any evidence of impact of a missile detonating or bomb detonating at close ran.

>> reporter: the man who led the fbi investigation called new allegations bull crap. brian.

>> tom costello. that night 17 years ago, few of us will forget.