Associated Retired Aviation Professionals

July 11, 2001

Captain Ray Lahr (ret)
18254 Coastline Drive
Malibu, CA  90265

Mr. Ronald S. Battocchi, Esq.
General Council
National Transportation Safety Board
490 L’Enfant Plaza East  SW
Washington, D.C. 20594

Dear Mr. Battocchi:

            Isn’t there some way we can resolve this matter without a lawsuit? The following is the content of your brief letter dated June 27, 2001.

            “Dear Captain Lahr:    Thank you for your correspondence dated June 18, 2001.  Mr. Campbell forwarded your letter to me for response.  The file related to your FOIA request number 2001-0048 was reviewed, and it was determined that all appropriate procedures under the FOIA were afforded your request.  Therefore, the June 13, 2001 response to your appeal concludes the NTSB’s administrative process for this FOIA request.  The June 13 letter addresses your appeal rights should you disagree with the Managing Director’s decision.    Sincerely,  Ronald S. Battocchi, General Council ”

            Here are the appeal rights that you referenced in Mr. Campbell’s letter of June 13, 2001:  “You may appeal my decision under the FOIA to the district court of the United States in the district in which you reside or have your principal place of business, or in the District of Columbia.  See 49 U.S.C. 552(a)(4)(B).    Sincerely,  Daniel D. Campbell, Managing Director ”

            Permit me to explain my position.  I was quite surprised when midway in the TWA 800 accident investigation, the CIA and the FBI aired a simulation on national television claiming that everything forward of the wing on TWA 800 was blown away, and then the aircraft continued to fly and climb over three thousand feet.  My training and experience suggests that such a climb was impossible.  Nevertheless, at the accident hearing, the NTSB revealed its own simulation which, with some modification, repeated the CIA claim.  However, the NTSB did not provide the data, the calculations, or the reasoning used to produce its simulation.  The NTSB produced its simulation in private without allowing participation or oversight by the other parties to the investigation.  Now  that is not a fair and correct process for a public accident investigation.

            The NTSB included a small table of Boeing data on its website.  Using that data, I was able to calculate that TWA 800 stalled within one and a half seconds after losing its nose.  In that brief period, the aircraft could not have climbed more than two hundred feet. After the stall, the aircraft was in free fall.  I have submitted these calculations to the NTSB and to everyone I know who was associated with the investigation.  So far, no one has refuted the calculations.  Instead, the NTSB hides behind the claim that Boeing will not allow them to release proprietary data.  The NTSB will not say who in Boeing is not allowing the release of data, nor has the NTSB produced any document from Boeing directing the NTSB not to release data.  I have worked with Boeing personnel on other accident investigations and found them to be very cooperative and forthcoming about releasing data pertinent to the investigation.  The NTSB has already released the pertinent Boeing data relating to the TWA 800 “noseless” climb.  It is difficult to imagine what type of additional proprietary data could reverse the imbalance causing the pitch-up and stall.  Furthermore, it is difficult to imagine why Boeing would want to withhold data from the public record that pertains to this climb.  Certainly, no manufacturer is expected to design an aircraft that can sustain flight with the nose and cockpit blown off. 

            It is my firm belief that reasonable people can sit down and discuss the controversial climb of TWA 800 based on all of the evidence available. Once again, I repeat my request for such a meeting with the NTSB.  I would welcome representatives from Boeing and the CIA and any other party with a legitimate interest in this matter

I believe we can resolve this matter without a lawsuit.



Open Letter

Ray Lahr

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