GW Virginia campus may house TWA wreckage

The wreckage of TWA Flight 800 could move to GW’s Virginia campus in a partnership with the National Transportation Safety Board.

If GW is selected and the plan receives congressional approval, NTSB would give GW $15 million to $30 million for construction of a facility that could include classrooms, offices, laboratories and a hangar for the wreckage, GW Virginia campus Executive Dean Irwin Price told The Washington Post.

“It’s a great research opportunity,” GW President Steven Joel Trachtenberg said. “The wreckage is unique and provides an opportunity for school and specialists who are concerned about air safety.”

But Trachtenberg said the estimated figures are only speculations.

TWA Flight 800 crashed in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Long Island July 17, 1996, killing all 230 passengers. The origin of a spark that caused an explosion in the 747’s center fuel tank is still unknown.

The safety board is considering three locations, including the Loudon County campus, for storing the wreckage. Officials also are contemplating sites near John F. Kennedy Airport in New York and the Hagerstown, Md., airport.

But Trachtenberg said GW’s site outside Washington, D.C. makes it the best choice.

“It has an approximate location to research facilities and is close to federal agencies,” Trachtenberg said. “It allows for synergy.”

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), chairman of the House appropriations transportation subcommittee, told The Post that moving TWA 800 wreckage to the Virginia campus would be “a wonderful thing” if the project saves federal dollars and provides a training device for U.S. crash investigators.

Barbara Porter, GW public affairs director, said she expects a decision within 60 days.

“We’re very happy we’re being considered and we hope we get it,” Porter said.

-Matt Berger contributed to this report.

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