Boeing fails to pinpoint TWA 800 crash cause : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread

Thursday August 10, 2:57 pm Eastern Time

Boeing fails to pinpoint TWA 800 crash cause

By Jim Wolf

WASHINGTON, Aug 10 (Reuters) - Boeing Co. (NYSE:BA - news) said on Thursday a four-year, $32 million in-house investigation had failed to pinpoint even so much as the possible spark of the 1996 mid-air explosion of TWA Flight 800, one of its jumbo jets, that killed all 230 people on board.

But the wreckage showed no signs of the Boeing 747-100's having been bombed nor hit by a missile, contrary to conspiracy theories that have circulated widely, company officials said in summarizing their part of the largest transportation accident probe in history.

All 230 people aboard died when the Paris-bound aircraft exploded and fell into the Atlantic off Long Island on July 17, 1996, 14 minutes after takeoff from New York's John F. Kennedy Airport.

In an April 28 submission to the National Transportation Safety Board, which heads the federal investigation, Boeing attributed the crash to ``an ignition of flammable vapours in the centre wing tank, resulting in a loss of structural integrity of the aircraft.''

Briefing reporters in suburban Arlington, Va., company officials said on Thursday they had been unable to determine the ignition source and declined to name any likely candidates.

``We're going to leave that'' to the five-member safety board, which is to consider on August 22-23 its final report on the probable cause of the crash, Ron Hinderberger, director of aircraft safety for Boeing's commercial airplane group, said.

``There would be nothing that would please us more than to say 'we found it','' Hinderberger said, referring to whatever sparked the explosion. Not uncovering it was ``bothersome,'' he conceded.


But he said the hunt had identified ways to enhance fuel tank system safety, including a recommendation that airplane operators use air-conditioning carts when on the ground to lower fuel-tank temperatures when the thermometer tops 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.6 degrees Celsius).

Dennis Floyd, the Seattle-based company's chief engineer for airplane safety, said the investigation has prompted 48 service bulletins recommending design, maintenance and/or inspection improvements across the Boeing fleet, the most to result from any accident by far. Eleven others are in the works.

Although Boeing declined to name a suspected cause, it said none of the recovered fuel system components showed any evidence of having sparked the events suspected of blowing up the airliner.

Similarly, no evidence was found that any of the 747-100's fuel quantity indicators, probes or wiring were the culprits, the company said in its report to the safety board.

``Boeing's examination of the recovered wreckage did not reveal any evidence of bomb damage on the structure or damage that could be expected from a missile impact,'' Hinderberger said.

He said Boeing was ``in agreement'' with a conclusion by the head of a safety board-appointed task force that witness accounts were of scant value in determining the cause.

Several tales of an upward-streaking light in the sky at the time of the crash have fuelled conspiracy theories centred on a missile of a type that could have been launched from boats in the area.

In March, the safety board's ``witness group'' said it had reviewed 755 interviews carried out by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, calling them ``poorly suited for purposes of an aircraft accident investigation.''

Still, investigators test-fired heat-seeking, shoulder-fired ``Stinger'' missiles from a Florida beach in April to compare what witnesses reported and the sights and sounds a missile would make in the lighting and atmospheric conditions akin to those that prevailed that evening on the Long Island coast.

-- (, August 10, 2000



What do you think about this one?

-- Wonderin (about@lots.of.things), August 10, 2000.

As Boeing is now a MAJOR defense contractor, it cannot admit that the plane was taken down by a "Stinger" missile. Not parroting the government line that "all is well -- everyone loves us -- terrorism can't happen here except by 'militia nuts' with guns which we have to register and confiscate..." would jeopardize their defense contracts.

-- A (, August 11, 2000.

Amen, A.

My money is on the missile.

-- Oxy (, August 11, 2000.

One of my pet peeves.

Let's see here now, four years and 32 MILLION dollars later (32 mil for the in-house investigation, probably four or fives times, if not more, than that for the total bill, NTSB, FAA, FBI, etc, etc, etc) for the deaths of 230 people.

230 people died in that crash, at least one hundred million was spent investigating it. How many folks died on the hyways last year? Tens and tens of thousands. Anybody hear of a hundred million dollar investigation about those people? I don't think so.

But plane crashes are big news, so the idiot public will spend millions, even hundreds of millions to be sure than 230 people never die the same way again....meanwhile, tens of thousands die on the road and nobody seems to want spend 100 million per 230 dead to learn how to end that slaughter.

Honest to god, sometimes I think we are a nation of idiots.

-- Uncle Deedah (, August 11, 2000.

"so the idiot public will spend millions..."

I don't remember anyone asking ME for an okay on this expenditure. Did someone ask YOU?

-- Anita (, August 11, 2000.

Paris Match magazine had an extensive article about the missile theory a few years ago. Persuasive, but mostly circumstantial. According to the article, there were several Navy ships nearby, but they all beat feet when the crash alert went out.

I've been told by family friend (a TWA pilot now retired), that after the incident, most of the pilots and management (including him), believed it was a missile. He also described threats of serious retribution if anyone discussed it publicly. Yeah I know, crackpot conspiracy theorist at TB2k. Whatever.

My own personal theory is that it was a botched test of a new sub- launched SAM. (maybe a waterproof Patriot?) Guided by an AWACS signal feed. (Guess they need to work on that part...) The test missile could have had a dummy warhead, explaining the lack of explosive residue. Maybe it was (and is) secret because it's deployment could violate ABM treaties?

I don't know. But I suspect there are alot of people who still can't sleep at night.

Lots more at


be sure to check out the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Final Report. One of their conclusions is that the exploding fuel tank was a _result_ of the aircraft breakup, not it's cause.

Very good point about safety priorities, Unk. Sad but true.

Love those trains.

-- (just@nothercrackpot.tinfoil), August 11, 2000.

I agree Uncle Dee. I know of a few children who could use a home, a hot meal and some medical care.

-- Debra (, August 11, 2000.

"Let's see here now, four years and 32 MILLION dollars later (32 mil for the in-house investigation, probably four or fives times, if not more, than that for the total bill, NTSB, FAA, FBI, etc, etc, etc) for the deaths of 230 people.

230 people died in that crash, at least one hundred million was spent investigating it."

Sort of like the big investigation that decided the Branch Davidains were responsible for their own deaths. I'm still wondering what happened to the door. Did the Davidians take it?

-- Wonderin (if@government/ever.tells.the.truth), August 11, 2000.

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