Brief sound heard at end of TWA cockpit tape
Crew seemed unaware of any problems
July 25, 1996
EAST MORICHES, New York (CNN) -- A "fraction-of-a-second" sound was recorded just before the tape stopped in the cockpit voice recorder recovered from TWA Flight 800, a federal investigator said Thursday.
The initial playing of the tape was conducted at a National Transportation Safety Board laboratory in Washington, just hours after it and the flight data recorder were pulled from the Atlantic Ocean early Thursday by Navy divers, NTSB Vice Chairman Robert Francis said. The flight data recorder shows various instrument readings before the crash.
"There is no conclusive information on the recordings," based on a preliminary examination, a source told CNN. The source said there was no indication the crew suspected anything wrong prior to the July 17 explosion and crash that killed 230 people.
Investigators have said they are looking at three areas of investigation -- a mechanical failure, an explosion, or the possibility the plane may have been hit by a missile.
The preliminary examination of the tapes does not provide any additional information about those possibilities, the source said. However, the source added that the tapes confirm what many investigators suspected -- that the plane suffered a sudden catastrophic event off the coast of Long Island.
Investigators said Thursday the two so-called black boxes recovered from the flight were not seriously damaged. Airline analysts said the fact that the tapes did not yield any clues initially does not mean that they won't.
In 1985, a scan of tapes from the crash of an Air India flight provided no early clues, but later testing led investigators to conclude a bomb had caused the crash.
Clinton meets with families
Earlier in the day, President Clinton traveled to New York to meet with grieving families and get a briefing from the National Transportation Safety Board.
Richard Penzer, whose sister died in the crash, was among those who met with Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton. He said the president made a brief statement, which was translated into French and Italian, then mingled with family members.
"It was not a technical speech," Penzer said. "It was very kind, kind-hearted, decent speech. You could see the decency of the man. He really felt for us. Then we had the ability to go up to him and say whatever you wanted."
Afterward, the Clintons flew to Atlanta to see some of the Olympic Games. They were to return to Washington late Thursday night.
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