On this Day — FBI : No Evidence of Foul Play in 1996 TWA 800 Crash (November 18 1997)

“Aviation investigations are replete with accident scenarios that couldn’t happen. And given the lack of bomb evidence so far, neither scenario has been ruled out, officials said. First is the possibility that the doomed plane’s front section, which has a history of structural fatigue cracks and must undergo regular inspections, simply unzipped from the rest of the plane as weakened structural frames gave way.”

TWA 800 — Washington Post (August 1 1996)

“No evidence has been found which would indicate that a criminal act was the cause of the tragedy of TWA flight 800.  We do know one thing. The law enforcement team has done everything humanly possible, has pursued every lead, has looked at every theory and has left no stone unturned.”

FBI Assistant Director James Kallstrom (November 18 1997)

“The FBI didn’t want to hear about anything but a missile or a bomb, because otherwise there was no FBI case. Their conduct was disturbing from the very beginning.”

Chuck Grassley — Chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee on administrative oversight. Washington Post (May 9 1999)

“Governments lie. They do it all the time. And, much as we’d like to believe otherwise, the US government is no exception. There were times when we may have believed otherwise. But after Vietnam and Watergate, we know better.”

US Journalist Ted Koppel — “The USS Vincennes: Public War, Secret War.” –  ABC News (July 1st 1992)

Trans World Airlines Flight 800 (TWA 800) was a Boeing 747-100 which exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near East Moriches, New York, on July 17, 1996. On November 17 1997, the FBI formally ended its 16-month investigation into the crash of TWA flight 800. FBI agents concluded there was no evidence it was a criminal act. Follow us on Twitter: @INTEL_Today

RELATED POST: Suspicious Aviation Tragedies — November 27 1989 : Avianca Flight 203 [UPDATE (Spanish) : Simon Bolivar Prize 2017]

RELATED POST: Suspicious Aviation Tragedies — October 6 1976 : Cubana de Aviacion Flight 455 [UPDATE : Luis Posada Carriles is Dead (February 15, 1928 – May 23, 2018)]

RELATED POST: On This Day — Korean Airliner Flight 007 Shot Down (September 1 1983)

RELATED POST: On This Day — 1,000 Boeing 747 Jumbo Plane Produced (September 10 1993)

TWA 800 exploded at about 8:31 p.m. EDT, 12 minutes after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport on a scheduled international passenger flight to Rome, with a stopover in Paris.

All 230 people on board were killed in the third-deadliest aviation accident in U.S. territory.

The accident airplane, registration N93119, (Boeing 747-131) was manufactured by Boeing in July 1971; it had been ordered by Eastern Air Lines, but after Eastern canceled its 747 orders, the plane was purchased new by TWA.

The aircraft had completed 16,869 flights with 93,303 hours of operation.

Final Report

The FBI’s conclusion left mechanical failure — not a bomb or missile — as the most likely cause of the crash.

A CIA video simulation shown during the briefing concluded that witnesses to the crash off the Long Island coast saw the breakup of the doomed plane in the seconds after the initial explosion, not the explosion itself. The video outlined the step-by-step chronology of the accident.

What some people thought was a missile hitting the plane was burning, leaking fuel from the jet after the front part of it had already broken off, FBI officials said.

Intense Debates & Suspicion of Cover-up

In the case of TWA 800, the FBI is known to have attempted to hide vital information pointing to a mechanical failure while trying to portray the accident as an act of terrorism.

“FBI’s former chief metallurgist, William Tobin, testified that bureau officials repeatedly and angrily dismissed scientific evidence that pointed to a mechanical malfunction.

The FBI didn’t want to hear about anything but a missile or a bomb, because otherwise there was no FBI case,” said Grassley, chairman of the Judiciary subcommittee on administrative oversight. Their conduct was disturbing from the very beginning.” (WP May 9 1999)

On the very day of this tragedy, US President Bill Clinton recorded his thoughts. I do not have the transcripts, but I remember it quite well.

“The Iranians have done this. They want war. I am fucked if I give them war and I am fucked if I don’t. Either way, I won’t be re-elected.”

Old before their time : TWA 800, AIR INDIA 182 and PAN AM 103

Wherever the truth may lie, there is at the very least one fact about these disasters that cannot be disputed. In each case, the front section detached from the main body of the plane and  thus landed earlier that the rest of the plane.

In the mid 80′, Boeing had noticed a serious engineering problem with the front section of the Boeing 747. In short, due to the unusual shape of that part of the plane, fatigue effects on the structure of section 41 (and to a lesser extent section 42) were far more severe than anticipated. The issue had been expected but underestimated.

Boeing introduced about two dozen “Airworthiness Directives” requiring immediate inspections and repairs. All 747 planes built after the 686th were constructed according to a new design. It is also said that Boeing switched to a different aluminum-alloy for some critical parts.

Carl A. Davies has researched this issue and published a very interesting book: PLANE TRUTH.

F2

Cracks near section 41 due to the fatigue effect

Davies points out that the 747 had been expected to serve 20 years, 20,000 cycles or 60,000 hours. But the problems encountered with section 41 made it clear that these expectations were not realistic. In some case, “fatigue cracks” would appear as soon as after just 6,500 cycles.

For what it is worth, I understand that in each of these disasters, the “Black Box” recorded one single loud noise believed to have been caused by the breaking-up of the plane. That is right. There is no record of an explosion sound!

TWA Flight 800 – Crash Animation

The NTSB concluded that the breakup was caused by a fuel tank explosion due to a short-circuit in a set of wires located next to the fuel tank, allowing high amounts of voltage to ignite the petrol.

However, many people still believe to this day that the plane was brought down by a terrorist bombing or a missile strike and is a government cover-up.

REFERENCES

FBI: No criminal evidence behind TWA 800 crash — CNN

=

On this Day —  FBI : No Evidence of Foul Play in 1996 TWA 800 Crash (November 18 1997)

This entry was posted in TWA 800 and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s