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Relatives of TWA 800 victims suspect fuel pump caused crash

TWA March 28, 1997
Web posted at: 11:30 p.m. EST

NEW YORK (CNN) -- A faulty fuel pump may have sparked the explosion that brought down TWA Flight 800, a lawyer representing some of the crash victims' families said Friday.

New York-based lawyer Lee Kreindler said this theory stems from an ex of pumps that were removed from an out-of-service Boeing 747, the same type of plane as Flight 800. Those pumps showed evidence of electrical arcing and overheating, Kreindler said.

The National Transportation Safety Board said it received Kreindler's report earlier in the week. Agency spokesman Ted Lopatkiewicz said the board will analyze and consider the theory.

The NTSB is conducting its own tests to find what could have blown up the plane's center fuel tank. Preliminary tests have not yet found a likely ignition source, sources told CNN. Those tests are expected to continue through mid-May.

The Paris-bound Boeing 747 exploded and crashed into the Atlantic off Long Island shortly after taking off from New York's John F. Kennedy Airport on July 17. All 230 people on board were killed.

Attention centers on scavenge pump


The FBI says the plane could have been downed by a bomb, missile or mechanical failure. But it says investigators have found no physical evidence of a bomb or missile, and that a mechanical failure is the most likely cause.

NTSB officials have told victims' families they believe there is "no criminal element" behind the crash.

The safety board's investigation has focused recently on the possibility that enough static electricity could have been generated inside the center fuel tank to ignite fuel fumes there.

About 95 percent of the plane has been recovered. A so-called scavenge fuel pump is the only one of three pumps in the center fuel tank that is still missing.

Kreindler, who represents the families of 52 TWA flight 800 victims in lawsuits against Boeing and TWA, theorizes that this pump could have created the spark.

"It says something about an ignition source in the scavenge pump," Lopatkiewicz said. "So they (the victims' families) seem to think there was a possible ignition in the scavenge pump in the center fuel tank."

This is the second time Kreindler has sent the NTSB information offering guidance on the Flight 800 investigation.


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