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NTSB Refuses to Reopen TWA Flight 800 Crash Probe

The National Transportation Safety Board turned down a request from a group that believes the jet was shot down by a missile

The National Transportation Safety Board has refused to reopen its investigation into the 1996 crash of TWA flight 800, turning down a request from a group that believes the jet was shot down by a missile. The federal agency said Wednesday it stands by its conclusion that the explosion that downed the jet on July 17, 1996, near John F. Kennedy Airport in New York was an accident, caused when fuel in a wing tank ignited.

A group called The TWA Project last year filed a petition with the NTSB asking it to reopen the investigation. It believes a “high-velocity, right-moving explosion,” more consistent with a missile strike than a fuel fire, doomed the plane. The NTSB said in a statement Wednesday that the group’s analysis of radar evidence to bolster their claims was flawed; that no evidence of a warhead was found; and that the debris field suggests the plane came apart mid-air after an ignition in the center wing fuel tank.

The crash killed 230 passengers and crew. The NTSB investigation found that a short circuit ignited the fuel.

Jim Hall, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, looks on as the reconstruction of TWA Flight 800 is moved to a smaller hanger on Sept., 14, 1999.ED BETZ / AP file



— Phil Helsel