On this date in aviation history; 22 years ago, Trans World Airlines Flight 800 (TWA 800), a Boeing 747-100, exploded and crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near East Moriches, New York, at approximately 8:31 PM EDT, 12 minutes after takeoff from JFK, on a scheduled international passenger flight to Rome. All 230 people on board were killed, the third-deadliest aviation accident to occur in U.S. territory.
The four-year NTSB investigation concluded with the approval of the Aircraft Accident Report on August 23, 2000, ending the most extensive, complex, and costly air disaster investigation in United States history. The report's conclusion was that the probable cause of the accident was an explosion of flammable fuel/air vapors in a fuel tank, and, although it could not be determined with certainty, the most likely cause of the explosion was a short circuit.
The NTSB addressed allegations that the Islip radar data showed groups of military surface targets converging in a suspicious manner in an area around the accident, and that a 30-knot radar track, never identified and 3 NM from the crash site, was involved in foul play, as evidenced by its failure to divert from its course and assist with the search and rescue operations. Military records examined by the NTSB showed no military surface vessels within 15 NM of TWA 800 at the time of the accident. In addition, the records indicated that the closest area scheduled for military use, warning area W-387A/B, was 160 NM south.
Trace amounts of explosive residue were detected on three samples of material from three separate locations of the recovered airplane wreckage. The NTSB considered the possibility that the explosive residue was due to contamination from the aircraft's use in 1991 transporting troops during the Gulf War or its use in a dog-training explosive detection exercise about one month before the accident. However, testing conducted by the FAA's Technical Center indicated that residues of the type of explosives found on the wreckage would dissipate completely after 2 days of immersion in sea water (almost all recovered wreckage was immersed longer than 2 days).The NTSB concluded that it was "quite possibl