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TWA Flight 800 Explosion Theories

After the explosion of TWA Flight 800, everyone was looking for quick answers to the cause. A month after the explosion various theories surfaced, including that the explosion occurred in the Boeing 747’s center fuel tank or that the plane was brought down by a missile. Another was that an explosive device went off in the passenger cabin right above the center fuel tank leaving behind traces of PETN, which is a chemical found in bombs and missiles.

However, as aviation attorney Paul Hedlund stated at the time, “We may never find the particular part of the wreckage that will give us definitive information.”  The NTSB stated years later that the probable cause of the TWA explosion was the ignition of flammable fuel vapors in the center fuel tank.

Air Date: 8 -22-1996
Incident Date: 7-17-1996