Investigators have decided that the explosion aboard TWA Flight 800 was not caused by an electrical short circuit, ruling out one more type of mechanical failure.
Experts at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., found no indication that a short circuit caused sparks that might have ignited fuel or vapors in the plane’s center fuel tank, Shelly Hazle, a spokeswoman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said Tuesday.
NTSB officials have said the Boeing 747’s center fuel tank exploded, but they have not determined whether the cause was a mechanical failure within the tank or an explosion from outside, such as a bomb or missile.
Another theory being examined was one that suggested fuel vapors in the largely empty tank became over-heated, causing the tank to blow up.
Flight 800 exploded off Long Island about 11-1/2 minutes after leaving Kennedy Airport on July 17, killing all 230 aboard. Nineteen bodies still have not been found.
The search for wreckage shifted Tuesday to the crash site’s eastern-most debris field.
Sources close to the search have told The Associated Press that investigators believe much of the mid-section continued to hurtle forward for about 40 seconds after the explosion and may have come to rest in the easternmost field.