The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) denied a petition for reconsideration of its findings in the investigation of the 1996 crash of TWA flight 800.
The petition was filed in June 2013 by a group called The TWA 800 Project. Petitioners claimed a “detonation or high-velocity explosion” caused the crash. To consider the petition, the NTSB assembled a team of investigators not previously associated with the original investigation.
The petitioners advanced two claims that the NTSB considered under the regulations. In one, according to the NTSB, the petitioners relied on a subset of previously available radar evidence organized around their alternative explanation of the crash. The NTSB stated that this analysis was flawed because that petitioners overestimated the accuracy with which the radar could determine the position of the airborne object.
In the other claim, the petitioners introduced witness summaries obtained from the FBI that were treated as new evidence. But the witness summaries did not differ substantially from the evidence available during the NTSB’s original investigation.
None of the physical evidence supports the theory that the streak of light observed by some witnesses was a missile.
The original investigation looked for evidence of fragments from a missile warhead and found none. Further, the damage patterns within the airplane were consistent with a center wing tank explosion. Lastly, the distribution of debris was also consistent with an in-flight breakup started by a fuel-air explosion within the center wing tank.
Ultimately, the petitioners did not show that the NTSB’s conclusion or determination of probable cause were wrong and the NTSB denied the petition for reconsideration in its entirety.