Associated Press

  Boeing Pursues Theories in '96 Crash

      SEATTLE (AP) _ Two years after the FBI and federal aviation
  inspectors ruled out sabotage in the crash of TWA Flight 800, The
  Boeing Co. continues to pursue theories that a missile or a bomb
  downed the jet.     The Seattle Times reported Sunday that chemical and
  metallurgical tests were performed on the wreckage of the 747 for
  nearly 12 hours on Thursday by scientists hired by Boeing. The
  search was aimed at finding microscopic remnants of a bomb, a
  missile or shrapnel, the Times said, citing people familiar with the tests.
      ``Boeing has not ruled out any possibilities,'' spokeswoman
  Susan Davis told The Associated Press on Sunday. Despite the
  government's dismissal of the missile or bomb theory, Davis said,
  ``Until a cause has been identified, we'll look at all the possibilities.''
      The FBI stepped out of the TWA Flight 800 investigation in 1997
  after finding no evidence to support a bomb or missile theory. The
  National Transportation Safety Board has concluded that the Boeing
  747 crashed when the jet's center fuel tank exploded.
      Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who has been scrutinizing the
  investigation of TWA Flight 800, said Boeing risks ridicule by
  continuing to pursue a theory ruled out by the NTSB, the FBI, the
  Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and other experts.
      ``I don't think they enhance their own public relations if they
  continue to pursue the missile or bomb theory,'' he said.
      Most families of the people killed in the July 17, 1996, crash
  have sued TWA and Boeing for negligence. Boeing has settled cases
  with several families for undisclosed amounts.
      All 230 people aboard the plane were killed in the crash.01:25 PM ET
 11/06/99Crash Probers Learned From TWA Crash

 Crash Probers Learned From TWA Crash By PAT MILTON= Associated Press Writer=
      NEWPORT, R.I. (AP) _ When EgyptAir Flight 990 plunged into the
  Atlantic last weekend, National Transportation Safety Board
  Chairman James Hall was on the investigation scene within hours.
      Since then, he's been virtually alone in the public spotlight,
  presiding over news briefings and visiting grieving relatives while
  investigators from the FBI and other agencies play much less visible parts.
      It's in stark contrast to the crash of TWA Flight 800 in July
  1996, when the NTSB took a secondary role to the FBI's dogged
  search for evidence of a crime.
      Within minutes of the explosion of Flight 800 off the coast of
  New York's Long Island, the FBI was on the scene. Some 700 FBI
  agents tracked leads in what became the biggest investigation in
  the agency's history.
      Although a vice chairman of the 350-employee NTSB was on hand
  the day after Flight 800 went down, Hall was not.
      ``The biggest lesson needed to be who was in charge of the
  investigation from Day One,'' said Paul Marcone, aide to U.S. Rep.
  James Traficant, senior ranking member of the aviation subcommittee
  which oversees the NTSB.
      In addition to taking the lead in the investigation, the NTSB
  now counsels grieving relatives and keeps them abreast of the
  investigation _ the result of congressional legislation spurred by
  anguished relatives of Flight 800 victims.
      The NTSB's stance at the head of the investigation has changed
  the tone of what the public hears about the crash and the investigation.
      The specter of terrorism is not being raised so swiftly or
  insistently this time, although it is being considered because the
  plane was headed to the Middle East and Egyptian military officers
  were on board.
      There is also no initial evidence this time suggesting a crime
  as there was with Flight 800, when dozens of people claimed to have
  seen a missile-like light streaking toward the plane before it exploded.
      The Paris-bound TWA Flight 800 fell from 13,700 feet on July 17,
  1996, shortly after leaving Kennedy International Airport. EgyptAir
  Flight 990 left the same airport and minutes later plunged from
  33,000 feet to 16,000 feet, then rose to 24,000 feet before falling to the
      No evidence of a crime was ever found in the Flight 800 crash.
  Although the NTSB has not formally declared its cause, the crash
  apparently resulted from a center fuel tank explosion apparently
  set off by a combination of mechanical problems including damaged wiring.
      Joseph Valiquette, a spokesman for the New York FBI office,
  which has led the criminal investigation of both crashes, said
  Flight 800 is considered a ``textbook case for us on plane crash
      ``It broke new ground and set new standards for the FBI and is
  being used as a model in this case,'' he said.
      In 1996, the FBI was reluctant to share interviews of witnesses
  and people who touched the doomed plane with the NTSB.
      This time, Hall said, ``relations with the FBI are cooperative.
  I communicate daily with FBI director (Louis) Freeh and his agents
  here. They are going about their work, coordinating and
  communicating with us.''
      FBI Assistant Director Lewis Schiliro, who heads the criminal
  probe of EgyptAir Flight 990 from his New York office, said the
  lessons of Flight 800 enabled the FBI this time to set up quickly
  and chase leads without getting into conflict with the NTSB.
      ``We both learned a lot about our cultures but there was a lot
  of cooperation in Flight 800. We do have a common goal to find out
  what happened,'' he said.     And conditions are different this time.
      Valiquette said the high profile taken by the FBI in Flight 800
  was necessary to address the daily reports of eyewitnesses talking
  about missiles. ``We had a duty to the public to respond to those
  questions,'' he said.
      Also, Flight 800 crashed while the United States was on its
  highest state of alert for terrorism with the Atlanta Olympics just days
      The agencies' relationship could change depending what
  investigators learn from flight data and voice recorders once they
  are retrieved from the ocean floor.
      ``They (FBI) would have a bigger profile tomorrow if this was
  declared criminal,'' said former FBI agent Joe Cantamessa, who was
  the supervisor of the recovery site during Flight 800.