|US probers say TWA 800 witness
reports little use
March 21, 2000
WASHINGTON (Reuters) — Air safety investigators have concluded that
accounts of the 1996 explosion of a TWA jumbo jet off Long Island,
are of little use in their nearly completed probe of the crash.
The National Transportation Safety Board Tuesday issued the report of
"witness group'' that reviewed 755 records of interviews performed
Federal Bureau of Investigation following the July 17, 1996, crash
killed all 230 people on board.
"The FBI witness documents reviewed by the witness group are poorly
for purposes of an aircraft accident investigation,'' the investigators
The safety board is expected to hold a final hearing on the crash of
flight 800 later this year.
Investigators suspect an electrical fault ignited fuel vapors in the
747s nearly empty center fuel tank, breaking the plane apart and sending
into the sea.
Nevertheless, witness accounts of seeing a streak of light in the sky
the time of the crash have continued to aid conspiracy theories that
missile could have brought down the plane.
The safety board said that 670 witnesses reported seeing something judged
be related to the accident and of those 258 saw something that fit
definition of a streak of light.
Most of those streak of light accounts were consistent with the path
accident plane, the witness review group said.
There were 38 accounts of a streak of light rising straight up, or nearly
but these accounts seemed to be inconsistent with the calculated flight
of the plane.
The safety board said some FBI interviewers had framed their questions
manner that emphasized aspects relevant to a missile investigation.
The FBI conducted the original interviews without safety board investigators
being present because it initially believed it was dealing with a criminal
NTSB's witness group said a at least a handful of witness accounts could
cited to support a variety of theories about the accident.
"No study of the eyewitness accounts alone can prove or refute the contention
that the crash of TWA flight 800 was due to any particular cause,''