In anticipation of a new documentary film questioning the events surrounding the 1996 airplane crash of TWA Flight 800, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) today called for the investigation to be reopened. Wolf was chairman of the House Appropriations Transportation subcommittee at the time of the crash.
After the crash, Wolf visited the facility in New York where debris from the crash was held and met with Jim Hall and other senior National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials, who gave him regular updates on the investigation during transportation appropriation hearings.
In a letter today to NTSB Chairman Deborah A. P. Hersman, Wolf said new media reports are refuting the official cause of the crash and saying the four-year investigation was undermined, possibly due to conflict over which agency would head the analysis. Because of this, Wolf urged Hersman to revisit the investigation.
"In light of these new claims and advances in technology, I write today to request that NTSB reopen the investigation," Wolf wrote. "Too many questions have been raised about the legitimacy of the initial report for the issue not to be revisited."
The 1996 crash killed 230 people when it exploded near Long Island. A reconstructed portion of the plane is housed at the George Washington University campus in Wolf's district, where the NTSB air crash investigation training academy is also located.
The full text of the letter is below.
The Honorable Deborah A. P. Hersman
National Transportation Safety Board
490 Lenfant Plaza SW
Washington DC 20024
Dear Chairman Hersman:
At the time of the TWA Flight 800 crash in 1996, I was chairman of the House Appropriations Transportation subcommittee. I visited the facility where debris from the plane was initially housed in New York. I met with Jim Hall and other senior NTSB officials, and also received status updates on the investigation during appropriation hearings. A reconstructed portion of the plane is now in my district at the George Washington University campus in Loudoun County where the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) air crash investigation training academy is located.
The media is widely reporting on the upcoming release of a new documentary film in which members of the original TWA Flight 800 crash investigation come forward to refute the official cause of the crash and say that the investigation was undermined. As I recall, there was tension between the FBI and NTSB as to who would be responsible for the investigation. I also understand, according to news reports, that the NTSB has recently received a formal petition to reconsider the investigation.
In light of these new claims and advances in technology, I write today to request that the NTSB reopen the investigation. Too many questions have been raised about the legitimacy of the initial report for the issue not to be revisited. More than 200 people perished that day. Their families suffered unimaginable loss. They, and the American people, deserve to know the complete, unvarnished truth of what transpired on that day.
Frank R. Wolf
Member of Congress