INVESTIGATORS working on the Trans World Airlines (TWA) Boeing 747-100 crash off Long Island, New York, in July are still searching for conclusive evidence of what triggered the explosions, which destroyed the aircraft. The badly damaged No 2 engine has now been recovered, however, and is understood to have three turbine blades missing.

Efforts by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are concentrating on signs of "high-energy bulging" in the fuselage just forward of the right wing, in an attempt to discover whether an explosion there started the catastrophic chain of events.

Rough sea off Long Island has hampered salvage operations, but nearly half of the aircraft has now been recovered without yielding a crucial clue. The cockpit and forward passenger section crashed into the sea some 2.4km (1.5nm) ahead of the wings and rear cabin.

Recovered wreckage from the forward cargo bay has all but proved that any possible bomb was not located there. A device might, however, have been placed under a passenger seat, in a galley or in the aircraft structure.

The NTSB reports extensive fire-damage to seats in the forward cabin. These are above the severely damaged central wing-box which contains the centre fuel tank and which appears to have exploded. All four Pratt & Whitney JT9D turbofans have now been recovered.

Source: Flight International