TWA Flight 800
Recons t ruc t i on
The National Transportation Safety Board retainedWJE to reconstruct a ninety-four-foot long segment of the TWA Flight 800 Boeing 747 aircraft,
which crashed off Long Island, New York, on July 17, 1996. The objective was to reassemble the recovered pieces of the plane in a manner that permitted
unobstructed viewing of the aircraft, to assist in the diagnosis of the cause of the crash.
The reconstruction of TWA Flight 800 posed a unique challenge. The project remains the world’s largest aircraft reconstruction and set the
standard for future reconstructions. The use of twin trusses extending along the aircraft’s aisles to support the reconstruction was a particularly
innovative engineering solution.
Notes of Interest
• The flight number was retired and replaced with TWA
Flight 924 after the crash, although TWA continued to
operate flights between New York and Paris.
• The FBI contended from the start of the investigation that
there were three possible causes for the explosion: a bomb,
a missile, or mechanical failure. In the end, mechanical
failure was determined to be the cause of the explosion.
• “When the NTSB initially received our proposal in
September, they sent it out to other firms to evaluate if
we could do it for that cost and in that timeframe. The
comments came back saying that there was no way WJE
could do it that fast, and there’s no way they could do it
for that price. They said it would cost between $1.1 and
$1.3 million. After seven weeks of work, we had spent
about $480,000. So, we did it under budget and we beat
the timeframe by a week.” Mike Koob, Project Manager
The “gold standard”of accident reconstructions – John Hanson
This project significantly raisedWJE above all of our competitors. Our work on this project set the
standards for future post-accident reconstruction of aircrafts. – Ian Chin
The importance of this project is readily recognized not only by those responsible for this type of
investigation, but by the average person who is concerned about the safety of airplanes. The NTSB
demonstrated great trust inWJE by selecting us for this assignment. – Jim Connolly
WJE 50 Years