In millions of 747 flights since the first one on February 9, 1969, there has NEVER been an accident caused by an exploding Center Wing Tank!
Failure to find an ignition source means the NTSB’s theory (widely reported as fact) is ONLY speculation. Speculation is not the same as fact except on some "news" programs.
Jet A type fuel does not explode easily. Measures taken by government "researchers" to produce a "Made for TV" fuel tank explosion video prove just that. They actually added highly explosive hydrogen and propane gas to the tank as a "simulant". They also used a very powerful ignition source, much different than ignition sources under consideration as the cause of the TWA disaster.
In the following you can read about:
- History of 747 Center Wing Tank explosions
- Fuel Tank Explosion is not loud enough
- Difficulty getting Jet A Type Fuel to explode
- The Making of the Video
- What if the plane had been hit by lightning?
- What could make a fuel tank explode?
- Articles from Independent Investigator Websites
History of 747 Center Wing Tank explosions
Despite what you think you've been told, it has NEVER happened before.
Commander Donaldson's First Letter to the NTSB From the April 24, 1997 letter:" I couldn't let Jim Hall's April 11 Letter to the Editor go without mention of salient facts ("Flight 800: It Wasn't a Missile"). I was a Navy carrier pilot for 25 years and a crash investigator. Mr. Hall made two statements that are markedly unscientific: "We know that an explosive fuel air vapor mixture existed in the center fuel tank." Wrong. We most definitely don't know that. Aviation kerosene cannot be induced to burn at temperatures below 100 degrees Fahrenheit (flash point), and will not propagate fire until 400 degrees Fahrenheit (auto ignition temperature) is reached."
"In addition, the only source of heat to the center fuel tank would be air-conditioning packs operating on the ground with power supplied by the aircraft auxiliary power unit in the tail. Once the engines start, these packs cool immediately. This tank is also vented through the wings to the atmosphere in flight, which prevents the buildup of heat or vapor pressure. This is precisely why B747/100s have logged tens of millions of flying hours without a single fuel tank explosion. This is a particularly misleading point because reportedly the investigation has yet to be able to deliberately cause an explosion in a B747 tank on the ground."
NTSB Director James Hall from CNN July 13, 1997: Flight tests set to study TWA 800 mystery"Hall noted that of the millions of 747 flights over the last 30 years, there have been only two center fuel tank explosions."
This is very misleading.
First of all Hall is actually counting TWA 800, which has yet to be proven.
Second the other example cited is a Boeing 737, not a 747.
There is no prior history of a 747 accident caused by an exploding Center Wing Tank.
What about the May 11, 1990 fire aboard a Philippine Air Lines 737 in Manila?
- The aircraft type is not the same.
- The 737 was on the ground.
- The nose was not blown off the aircraft as with TWA 800.
From [page 8] of Commander Donaldson's Report to the Subcommittee on Aviation on the Crash of TWA Flight 800:"Fact: In Congressional testimony and in statements repeatedly made in the media, the NTSB leadership characterized the only example of a fuel tank fire involving a Jet-A fueled airliner, a Philippines Air 737 in 1990, as a center fuel tank explosion. Video and still photography, taken after the fire was out, show the center wing tank did not explode."
"...The undercarriage, wheels and center wing box (tank), were structurally sound enough to carry the load of engines and fuel weight in the wings with the aircraft under tractor tow. The gross fire damage to the cabin appears more indicative of a cabin fire, exacerbated by ignition of emergency oxygen canisters, interior plastics, etc. The Philippine crash investigators could not prove a source of ignition for that fire. Had the Center Wing Tank actually exploded in the manner the NTSB leadership suggests the aircraft would have dropped on the ramp and the tons of fuel in the wing would have immediately been involved."
Regarding older type fuel tank explosions, from [page 8] of the Donaldson Report:"...In congressional testimony and in statements repeatedly made in the media, the NTSB leadership cited the loss of an Air Force 707 and 3 KC135 air to air tanker aircraft, to fuel tank explosions as examples of mishaps similar to TWA Flight 800. Col. Dougherty’s office of the Air Force’s safety center says, “there is no record of a 707 loss and all three KC135’s were fueled with JP4, a fuel as volatile as automobile gasoline”. “Since switching to the military equivalent of FL800’s Jet-A fuel the Air Force has not had a problem.”"
Fuel Tank Explosion is not loud enough
From page 10 of NTSB exhibit 5A:"An acoustic expert in the area of explosions... noted that the sound of the explosion as noted in witness accounts is not consistent with an explosion only of the center fuel tank. The data he has analyzed indicates that the explosive force, as determined by witness accounts, is equivalent to about 1 ton of TNT. This is many times more than what would be expected in only a center fuel tank explosion. An explosion external to the airplane is theorized. The “gas bubble” theory produces such an external explosion."The NTSB was exploring whether a spontaneous release of methane gas from the ocean could have blown up the plane. The above undermines their own Center Wing Tank explosion theory.
Difficulty getting Jet A Type Fuel to explode
This might be why it has NEVER happened before.
As late as March 15, 1997 NTSB was having difficulty proving the theory they had settled on months earlier. From a Newsday article: TWA Tests Inconclusive Attempt to ignite fuel fails. From the article:" FEDERAL AIR-CRASH investigators, testing theories about mechanical failures that could have ignited the center fuel tank of TWA Flight 800, have managed to produce a buildup of static electricity on two parts from a similar 747's tank by spraying them with jet fuel. But so far the voltage has been insufficient to ignite fuel vapors, sources in the investigation said, making the tests inconclusive. The tests, conducted at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, are part of the National Transportation Safety Board's increasingly complex effort to explore possible mechanical causes for the Flight 800 disaster.
Investigators have produced low levels of voltage through the experiments, but not enough to create a spark, a safety-board source said. The tests are being conducted under various conditions of temperature and humidity.
One aerospace engineer expressed doubt [that] a static discharge could have created a spark powerful enough to ignite vapors in the center fuel tank, particularly in the thinner air at 13,700 feet.
``The question is, how could a little spark make this thing go bang,'' said Paul Czysz, a St. Louis University aerospace engineering professor. ``Even if it discharged, is there enough energy in that discharge to cause the fuel air mixture to burn? And if it does burn, is there enough concentration of the burning to heat the air temperature high enough that you get a detonation wave?''
The Making of the Video
What they did NOT tell you
To convince the public that aircraft fuel tanks can explode spontaneously the government paid researchers at CalTech to produce a video. This "Made for TV" video was widely shown on TV news during the December 1997 NTSB Public Hearing in Baltimore. The video shows a quarter scale model of a 747 Center Wing Tank exploding. Here's what they did not tell you on TV:
- Jet A type fuel is by nature not very explosive. To make the tank explode "researchers" used "simulated vapor". They put highly explosive HYDROGEN AND PROPANE gas in the tank. (Why not dynamite?)
You can find the video and other NTSB images at http://www.ntsb.gov/events/twa800/gallery.htm
- They also used a BIG SPARK, not simple static electricity to set it off. From NTSB Exhibit 20E page 30 at http://www.ntsb.gov/events/twa800/exhibit.htm:
"6.8 Ignition System
Ignition will be carried out by rapidly heating the filament of a type 1156 taillight bulb (12 VDC) with the discharge from a fireset containing a 1400 uF capacitor charged to 150 VDC. The glass bulb is deliberately broken and the base of the lamp mounted into a standard holder connected with the stiff wires through an insulation feedthrough to the firing line. The function and timing of this igniter has been determined in separate laboratory ignition tests. A backup igniter is provided in case the primary igniter fails."
Information on the BIG SPARK can be found at independent researcher Tom Stalcup's site at http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Congress/2639/spark.html From the site:
"The above picture depicts the means necessary to obtain the spark used in igniting the explosion of the 1/4 scale center wing tank."
See the BIG SPARK in action. This is not simple static electricity.
From the October 1998 Shoemaker Newsletter:"...if a quarter of a thousandth of a Joule of energy could have ignited TWA Flight 800's Jet A1 fuel, the NTSB would have demonstrated such a fact loudly, publicly, and often. Instead, it appears it went to extraordinary lengths in drastically changing multiple critical experiment parameters to make a demonstration that didn't fit TWA Flight 800's true circumstances.These experiments fit another objective chosen by the NTSB."
Could lightning make this supposedly volitile fuel tank explode? NO, it did not!
This same aircraft WAS struck by lightning in 1995From the Hull Thread at http://hometown.aol.com/bardonia/index.htm"The NTSB is searching for a phantom spark that ignited the Center Wing Tank yet fails to acknowledge that this same aircraft was struck by lightning on Good Friday, 1995 on approach to Rome airport. The right wing suffered significant metal damage requiring about 25 square feet of right wing tip skin to be replaced. The lightning traversed the #4 reserve tank, the #4 main tank, the #3 main tank and the Center Wing Tank. Lightning represents a multi-thousand fold stronger ignition spark than that which can be generated by any electical source of aircraft power. Yet you are asked to believe that this aircraft was downed by a spark yet to be discovered, while a bolt of lightning passing through four fuel tanks including the Center Wing Tank could not achieve the same result."
From [page 23] and [page 24] of Commander Donaldson's Report to the Subcommittee on Aviation on the Crash of TWA Flight 800"Previous Damage to Aircraft #17119 Fact: On Good Friday, 1995, the B747 destined to become TWA FL800 (aircraft 17119) was hit by lightning on approach to Rome Airport. The right wing suffered significant metal damage requiring about 25 square feet of right wing tip skin to be replaced. The lightning caused the surge tank fire protection bottles to fire (ironically, a wing tip safety system almost unique to TWA Aircraft designed to stop fire from reaching tanks through wing tip vents.) Lightning also coursed down through the wing and blew the circuit breakers to the wheel brake overheat warning system...
...In the above incident approaching Rome, lightning traversed the #4 reserve tank, the #4 main tank, the #3 main tank and the center wing tank. All were empty or near empty at the time and nothing happened. Lightning represents a multi-thousand fold ignition potential over any conceivable electrical source from aircraft power.
...It is also troubling that the NTSB Investigators (especially considering their one in a billion CWT mechanical failure theory) didn’t bother to even screen maintenance records for unique problems back 15 months."
What could make a fuel tank explode?
Dr. Bernard Loeb, director of the NTSB's office of aviation safety, acknowledged the evidence was consistent with the plane being struck by a "missile fragment"
From the Press-Enterprise on March 12, 1997: A "missile fragment" is Theory A safety board official testifies that evidence in the crash of TWA Flight 800 is consistent with that possibility. From the article:"The National Transportation Safety Board added a theory in the tangled investigation of the TWA Flight 800 crash Tuesday while the agency's investigators took their own samples from seats streaked with a red residue for testing independent of the FBI. A "missile fragment" could have been the culprit, Dr. Bernard Loeb told a House subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C. Loeb, director of the NTSB's office of aviation safety, told congressmen that evidence did not support a conclusion that either a bomb or a missile triggered the second-worst civilian air disaster. But he acknowledged the evidence was consistent with the plane being struck by a "missile fragment," introducing another theory in the nearly eight-month investigation. Loeb did not elaborate on where a missile fragment might have come from and members of the House Appropriations subcommittee on transportation did not press the issue."
Articles from Independent Investigator Websites:
- A Close Look at the NTSB CWT Scenario From the site:...At the time of this writing the NTSB still hasn't found the source of the mystery spark that might have caused the CWT to explode. In fact, the NTSB has yet to provide any proof that the CWT ever exploded.
- Report #02 June 03, 1998 reposted October 21, 1998. From the article:It seemed the NTSB was doing its best to sell the general public that Flight 800 simply exploded in flight while ignoring the eye witness evidence. The reason for the explosion being an explosive air/fuel mixture which might have been present in a nearly empty fuel tank, located in the belly of the Boeing 747. The fuel tank is known as the center wing tank. The first problem was that the NTSB couldn’t prove there was an explosive fuel/air mixture present in the center wing tank. The second problem, the NTSB couldn’t come up with an ignition source necessary to ignite a fuel/air mixture. And still can’t...
Comdr. Donaldson was already convinced that the NTSB scenario of an exploding center wing tank as the cause of the downing of Flight 800 was badly flawed... He already had plenty of first hand experience working with jet fuels in the Navy. He knew that jet fuel (almost the same as kerosene) was a very stable fuel and very difficult to accidentally ignite."
- Report #08 July 15, 1998. From the article:"The NTSB first put forth the explosion of the center wing tank as a possibility in August of 1996 because it took the heat off the friendly fire scenario. The NTSB first stuck their nose under the edge of the tent with their center wing tank theory and now are inside the tent with their center wing tank “fact”. The truth of the matter is the NTSB has never proved their center wing tank theory. Somebody should explain the difference between theory and fact to the NTSB."
- TWA 800 - The Magic Wingbox Why the Official Story Contradicts Itself. From the article:" ...Now the government contends that the center fuel tank exploded (no cause has yet been found) and that this started the sequence of events that brought down the 747. In that sequence of events is the loss of the forward section of the aircraft. Oddly enough, the severe scorching and paint discoloration seen on the aircraft's skin stops cleanly at the break where the nose section pulled away. Seen by many as proof that the nose section had to pull away prior to the explosion, the government has tried to explain away this contradiction by suggesting that the center fuel tank exploded inside the airplane ONLY, blowing the nose off from within. Now, according to Dr. Charles Wetli, the Suffolk County Medical Examiner, whatever fuel explosion did occur did not appear to reach the passengers."
- Evidence of Deception Proof the plane came apart before the fire. From the article:"Most telling, however, are the panels on the upper fuselage top center. Across a clean break in the skin, we see a clear difference between a section of fuselage bearing scorch marks and singeing, to a section of fuselage without any burn marks at all! Had the center fuel tank been the initiating event that tore the 747 apart, the burn marks from the fuel explosion would be evident in equal measure on both sides of the break. The fact that the forward section shows no sign of such scorching proves it was ripped free of the 747 before the center fuel tank exploded. "
- PUTTING THINGS TO BED From the article:"It is fascinating to finally witness some of the thick, hastily assembled bed linens of the official TWA Flight 800 investigation being pulled back to reveal what we now can see. What the NTSB and others tried to put to bed in 1996 and 1997 has somehow wriggled out into the sunlight. We now know the residue samples obtained by author/investigator James Sanders were never proven to be adhesive, despite official bed-time stories to the contrary. We now know official fuel tank explosives tests achieved ignition when fuels were substituted and sparks were cranked up tens of thousands of times in excess of what NTSB officials had stated were the ignition potentials in the aircraft's center wing tank. We also know that chemical traces commonly found in explosives were found in several places outside the fuel tank of TWA Flight 800, and that some tests of these materials were not carried out even after Dr. Birky requested them. One would expect that things put to bed too early and too forcibly might somehow crawl out later, demanding attention. That is what seems to be happening here."
- July 1998 - "That Massive Jumble" From the article:"Senior law enforcement officials said no cockpit in previous accidents resembled the 6-foot-high, 10-foot-wide mass of debris. They said a large metal beam from the rear of the Boeing 747 is inexplicably lodged in the center of the cockpit wreckage, which one official likened to a metallic ball of twine that investigators would have to unravel."
"The photo certainly does illustrate what the newspaper article attempted to describe as a " ball of wires , metal, seats, and switches." .According to the official scenarios of the destruction of TWA Flight 800, the cockpit area of the aircraft became detached from the rest of the aircraft prior to the largest of the explosions taking place. Other photographs of the reconstruction of the aircraft plainly indicate the forward section was not scorched, singed, or burned by the fuel-supported accident events which conspicuously burnt areas of the aircraft further back from the cockpit."
"So...how did the cockpit section of the aircraft , falling from the aircraft so early in the chronology of the accident, wind up in the condition pictured in Exhibit 9E? And, if the cockpit left the rest of the aircraft so early in the crash sequence, how did a large beam from the rear of the aircraft make its way to the front quickly enough to leave as part of the cockpit debris?"
- December 1997 - NTSB at Baltimore: A Non-Sequitur? From the article:"A great concern within the NTSB now that the December 8, 1997 Baltimore hearing looms before it as one of - if not the most important - milestones along the way to closing its investigation, is how to reconcile their bogus centerfuel- tank-explosion-as-the-initiator-of-everything theory for the destruction of TWA 800 with their own databases of recovered wreckage."
- Krok's "Spark" The 1/4 Scale Center Wing Tank Explosion Test - Dr J.E. Shepherd, J.C. Krok and J.J. Lee or the Explosion Dynamics Laboratory, California Institute of Technology conducted a 1/4 scale center wing tank explosion test. Their techniques have been questioned regarding the use of Hydrogen and Propane to assist in the explosion, and recently, their ignition source. Critics contend that Jet A1 fuel, used by itself, would not have caused the explosion in the above experiment, and that the "spark" used was extremely large--unlikely to occur within a center wing tank.
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