At first it seemed that a June 19 request from a filmmaker petitioning the NTSB to reopen the investigation of TWA 800, a Boeing 747-100 that experienced an in-flight breakup east of New York on evening of July 17, 1996, would be summarily dismissed.
The NTSB spent four years investigating the crash that killed all 230 people on board, generating a 400-page final reportand more than 17,000 pages of supporting material. The crash drove reviews and design changes of every aircraft that has followed.
As to the probable cause, the Board ruled that an explosion in the center wing fuel initiated the in-flight destruction. The source of the ignition was never found, but the most likely candidate was a short-circuit outside of the tank that “allowed excessive voltage to enter [the tank] through electrical wiring associated with the fuel quantity indication system”.
The filmmaker will release his version of the events during a show on July 17, the 17th anniversary of the crash – See this CNN report.
For the petition to gain traction, the NTSB will have to determine that the filmmaker has discovered “new evidence” or must show that the Board’s findings were “erroneous”.
As of June 28, the petition was still alive, as the NTSB issued a press release inviting credentialed media to its Training Center in Virginia, where the recovered pieces of TWA are assembled, for a background briefing on the investigation.
“Since the accident occurred 17 years ago, many who are now covering the petition filing are less familiar with the details and findings of the NTSB’s four-year investigation,” the NTSB says in the release. “This is why the NTSB is offering the background briefing on the TWA Flight 800 report.”