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NTSB Begins Releasing Details on Final Report of TWA Flight 800 CrashAired August 22, 2000 - 1:11 p.m. ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN ANCHOR: The National Transportation Safety Board today began releasing details on its final report on the 1996 crash of TWA 800, but one important question has not been answered. Investigators know an explosion brought down the plane, but they haven't definitely said what triggered the blast.
CNN's Carl Rochelle joins us now from Washington with the latest -- Carl.
CARL ROCHELLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Marty, don't believe they ever will give you an absolute hard final cause to what caused the explosion in that center fuel tank. But they have ruled out a couple of things this morning. They ruled out a bomb. They ruled out a missile. They said they don't believe it was a criminal act, some of the things that they looked at, during that four-year process of the investigation.
All indications are that it was an explosion in the center fuel tank of the airplane. They believe that is what started it.
Now to show out that sequence worked out, one investigator actually took a video camera and walked through the sequence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES WILDEY, NTSB MATERIALS LAB DIV.: The breakup sequence of the TWA Flight 800 airplane began with the explosion of fuel air mixer within the wing's center section of the tank.
Pressure from this explosion fractured the front member of the fuel tank, span-wise beam three (ph) along the top; Span-wise beam three rotated forward and impacted the aft side of the front spar. Cracking the front spar, came downward and entered into the fuselage. This fuselage cracking progressed around three sides of a large piece of belly structure, this created a hole through which pieces of the front spar, span-wise beam three, and one piece of span-wise beam two were free to be ejected from the airplane.
Fuselage cracking progressed upward on both sides of the hole. And very quickly, a ring of fuselage material completely separated from the airplane. This allowed the nose portion to fall and hit the ocean surface and, in one piece, the bulk of the airplane, the major portion of the airplane, remained in tact for a period of time, eventually breaking apart further down range, and falling to the ocean in several pieces.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROCHELLE: While investigators say they won't know for sure what ignited that explosion, they do believe that the most likely scenario is a high voltage arc into the low voltage lead that leads down into the fuel tank that fuel-level probe that was down in the tank, possibly, probably is the most likely cause of the event that started that explosion.
I am Carl Rochelle,CNN, reporting live from the NTSB meeting.
NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Carl.
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