The US National Transportation Board (NTSB) denied last week a petition for reconsideration of its findings and determination of the probable cause of the flight TWA 800 accident, which occurred on 17 July 1996 shortly after departure from New York’s JFK airport. After four years of investigation, the NTSB concluded that the accident’s probable cause was fuel ignition in the aircraft’s central fuel tank. However, there were claims that the aircraft had been shot down by a missile (click here for an example). In support of the latter view, a group called “TWA 800 Project” asked the NTSB in 2013 to reopen the accident investigation based on a new analysis of the radar evidence and witness summaries collected at the time of the accident. The NTSB rejected the petition in its entirety as unfounded.
The NTSB assembled a group of experts not involved in the original investigation to examine the petitioners’ claims.
Concerning the new radar analysis, the NTSB found that the petitioners had overestimated the accuracy with which the radar could determine the position of the aircraft. Thus, their calculations were incorrect and their conclusions unsupported.
As to the eyewitness reports, the petitioners produced 20 summaries of eyewitness interviews, conducted by the FBI shortly after the crash. The NTSB found that the reports contained no new evidence and did not contradict the physical evidence recovered during the investigation.