Associated Retired Aviation Professionals

Letter to NTSB on FOIA Appeal

September 24, 2001

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

Carol J. Carmody, Acting Chairman
National Transportation Safety Board
490 L’Enfant Plaza East, S.W.
Washington, D.C.  20594

Dear Ms. Carmody:

     Thank you for your letter of September 17, 2001, which responded to my previous letters to you and Ronald Battocchi, General Counsel for the Safety Board.  Your letter refers to a new FOIA number 2001-0410.  Although it was not my intent, my third appeal of the NTSB refusal of my FOIA request seems to have been interpreted as a new request, and it has been given a new FOIA number.  I don’t mind the additional number as long as the NTSB explains how it got from the Boeing data published in the TWA 800 accident report to the NTSB conclusion that TWA 800 zoom-climbed several thousand feet with the nose blown off.  I am not asking for new Boeing proprietary data (the pretext for the NTSB refusal).  My appeal is based on the Boeing data that the NTSB has already published.

                Parameter                  Before Nose Separation                      After Nose Separation
        Gross Weight (lbs)                      574,000                                              464,606
           C.G. %MAC                                21.1                                                      57.8
           Iyy  slug-ft sq                        27,790,000                                         15,780,000
           Ixx  slug-ft sq                        19,110,000                                         18,970,000

         The MAC (mean aerodynamic chord) was approximately 33 feet.  The C.G. (center of gravity) moved from 21.1% to 57.8% MAC or about 12.1 feet aft.  The C.L. (center of lift) of 574,000 lbs didn’t move.  That means the aircraft suddenly experienced a nose-up torque of about 6,000,000 ft-lbs.  Dividing the torque by the angular moment of inertia of 15,780,000 slug-ft sq gives and angular acceleration of .38 radians per second squared or 22 degrees per second squared.  That means that in 1.5 seconds the aircraft pitched through 25 degrees and was completely stalled.  The aircraft was in free fall.  The most it could have climbed in 1.5 seconds is about 200 feet. There was no zoom-climb.  This is further corroborated by the testimony of the pilots who saw the accident and by the radar plots of the falling aircraft.  The NTSB goofed when it claimed that TWA 800 zoom-climbed several thousand feet, a claim that is refuted by the Boeing data which the NTSB presented to the public.  

     Please, Ms. Carmody, the NTSB has a responsibility and moral duty to admit its mistake about that zoom-climb.  The NTSB needs to come clean with the public. 


Ray Lahr 

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