Nose gear doors baffle TWA crash investigators
September 5, 1997
Web posted at: 10:53 p.m. EDT (0253 GMT)
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Federal officials investigating the crash of TWA Flight 800 are baffled by the recent discovery of impact damage on the doors that close over the front landing gear.
According to several people involved in the investigation, for the last two weeks National Transportation Safety Board investigators have been trying to figure out what could have caused the nose gear doors to blow inward -- and whether whatever caused that damage happened before the plane's center fuel tank exploded.
The Boeing 747 crashed into the Atlantic shortly after takeoff from New York's Kennedy Airport en route to Paris,
July 17, 1996, killing all 230 people aboard.
Examiners who have been looking at crash wreckage for the past 13 months are now said to be mystified about the significance of the damage on the doors, which are located below the flight deck and well forward of the plane's center
fuel tank. The investigators are equally troubled by the fact that these nose gear doors were among the first things on the plane to have come off in flight.
One crash investigator told CNN on Friday that the discovery keeps open the question of whether the fuel tank explosion was the primary or secondary event in the in-flight breakup of TWA flight 800. But Shelly Hazle, an NTSB spokeswoman, downplayed the significance, emphasizing that investigators will have to see how this newly discovered evidence fits into their theory of how the plane blew up.