An FAA official, though, told reporters last week that its own substantial investigation into fuel tank safety following the crash found the tanks to be safe from explosions. Still, to make the fuel tanks safer, the FAA has issued sweeping changes to commercial aircraft designs and maintenance procedures, including nearly 40 rules and directives.
A Washington Post story in June reporting the NTSB had test-fired Stinger anti-aircraft missiles in April, as part of its TWA 800 investigation, raised some speculation the board might after all be seriously considering the missile theory as it prepares to make its final report.
NTSB officials, however, seemed to suggest the test was something of a formality, more about covering all of the bases than finding new answers.
“The tests have been described as “dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s and that’s a good way of looking at it,” said NTSB spokesman Paul Schlamm.
With no physical evidence to substantiate the eyewitness accounts of a missile strike, NTSB officials say the theory is all but ruled out.