Several Raytheon Stinger man-portable air defence missiles have been fired from Eglin US air force base to test the officially dismissed theory that a missile caused the 1996 crash of a Trans World Airlines Boeing 747 after it left New York's Kennedy International.

The firings were carried out by the US Army in late April and observed by National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The firings were observed and recorded by investigators checking eyewitness descriptions of TWA Flight 800's end, because the NTSB says it feels that the investigation will be incomplete unless the missile theory can be discounted on scientific evidence.

The tests will help determine whether streaks of light reported that night could have been missiles. Evidence so far, the NTSB says, points to an explosion in the aircraft's centre fuel tank as the cause.

Source: Flight International