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TWA Flight 800 documentary hints at crash cover-up

June 19, 2013 12:49:00 AM PDT
It's a mystery nearly 17 years old: What really brought down TWA Flight 800 off the coast of New York, killing all 230 people aboard? Former investigators are now coming forward, hinting at a government cover-up.

The New York-to-Paris flight exploded in mid-air on July 17, 1996, just minutes after the jetliner took off from John F. Kennedy Airport. After a four-year investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the probable cause of the crash was an accidental fuel tank explosion.

But the theories abounded as to what happened to the plane, from a bomb on the aircraft to it being struck by a missile or a meteorite.

Six retired members of the original investigation team filed a petition Wednesday to reopen the probe. The effort is being made in tandem with the release next month of a documentary that features the testimony of the former investigators, who raise doubts about the NTSB's conclusion.

"We didn't find any part of the airplane that indicated a mechanical failure," one of the whistleblowers says in a trailer for the film.

The former investigators say there is new evidence that a missile may have taken down the jet, including analysis of radar of the jetliner.

"We don't know who fired the missile," said Jim Speer, an accident investigator for the Air Line Pilots Association, one of those seeking a new review of the probe. "But we have a lot more confidence that it was a missile."

The NTSB issued a statement Wednesday morning saying it is aware of the upcoming documentary.

"All petitions for reconsideration are thoroughly reviewed, and a determination is usually made within about 60 days," spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said. "While the NTSB rarely re-investigates issues that have already been examined, our investigations are never closed and we can review any new information not previously considered by the board."

The documentary airs on the EPIX premium television channel on the 17th anniversary of the crash next month. An EPIX spokeswoman declined to say how much the filmmakers were paid for the documentary.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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