Lawsuit alleges NTSB contravening its disclosure obligation in TWA 800 investigation.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) responded to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit with an unprecedented assertion that it should not provide radar data that was used in its investigation of the catastrophic explosion of TWA 800. The 4 year investigation could not determine the cause of the explosion.
Graeme Sephton, an electrical engineer, filed the suit last year on behalf of a group of independent researchers who have been studying the accident for over three years.
The NTSB, established under US Code, Title 49, has an unequivocal statutory obligation "to provide (such) data on request". By flouting that law and the FOI Act, the NTSB is perpetuating the appearance of a cover-up in relation to its TWA 800 investigation. The NTSB is insisting that the public should settle for its edited versions of the original data. They demand total trust in their competence. This despite the fact that, a month after this research group filed a FOIA request for all the radar data, the NTSB announced that they had "overlooked" important altitude data. It was very significant because it was for that period of time when the aircraft ceased reporting its altitude via transponder. They had overlooked this data for over 3 years!
The mystery of this tragedy is now being compounded by the mystery of the NTSB's unauthorized withholding of data. This devious behavior undermines public confidence and the credibility of the NTSB. Even participants in the official investigation complained about the NTSB withholding data. The final reports to the NTSB of the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA) and also of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers both protested the NTSB's failure to share essential information even within the investigation. Reference: http://www.twa800.com "Reports Section"
If Federal Judge Freedman rules in favor of the NTSB, the Title 49 public rights to accessible and credible safety research data will be undermined. His ruling is expected any day now. The right-to-know of journalists, aviation interests, independent researchers and the public-at-large presently hangs in the balance.
Evidence of a Missile
Flight 800 Database
Bomb -------- 4%
Fuel Tank --- 14%