THE NAME OF THE MANAGING DIRECTOR OF THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD WAS MISSPELLED IN AN ARTICLE YESTERDAY. HE IS PETER GOELZ. (PUBLISHED 02/05/99)

For more than a year, divers slowly plucked the pieces of Trans World Airlines Flight 800 from the Atlantic Ocean, and some of the world's best investigators carefully reassembled them in an effort to determine what had blown up the aircraft, killing 230 people. The reconstructed hulk has been sitting in a hangar--at a cost of $4.5 million a year--at Calverton, N.Y., near where TWA 800 went down in 1996. And local officials have told the National Transportation Safety Board they need the giant hangar for other purposes. But the grief of the victims' mourners and ongoing civil litigation makes it unlikely that the federal government will ever be able to discard the shredded craft. Now, the NTSB and George Washington University appear to have found a solution: moving the reconstructed wreckage to GW's Loudoun County campus as the center of a new safety training center. Safety board officials said this week that the campus near Dulles International Airport is the preferred location for TWA 800. If that site proves unfeasible for some reason, officials are also considering locales near John F. Kennedy Airport in New York, from where the jumbo jet took off on the evening of July 17, 1996, or near the Hagerstown, Md., airport. TWA 800 exploded and plunged into the Atlantic Ocean with 230 people aboard, launching a worldwide search for terrorist perpetrators who never existed. A spark of still-unknown origin apparently caused the plane's center fuel tank to explode. As a result of the furor over possible terrorism, TWA 800 became one of only four planes to be extensively reconstructed as part of an investigation. Its reconstruction was far more extensive than the other three, which included the Pan American jetliner that was shattered by a bomb over Lockerbie, Scotland, and planes that crashed in Italy and France. While it houses TWA 800's battered fuselage, almost all of which was recovered from the ocean bottom, the New York hangar's $4.5 million annual rental and storage costs are straining the safety board's tight $53 million budget. NTSB Chairman Jim Hall said it is likely that the courts would not allow the fuselage to be discarded in any case. "Both OMB {the Office of Management and Budget} and Congress have urged us to find a less expensive alternative," Hall said. After the initial cost of moving the plane and building the new training facility, the cost of storage would drop dramatically and the fuselage would become a valuable training tool, he explained. New metallurgical investigative procedures were developed during the reconstruction, as were methods to determine the sequence of events, microsecond by microsecond as the plane came apart. Under the plan being developed, new generations of investigators would be trained in these and other techniques using the fuselage. As the aviation industry discovers the reasons for crashes and makes sure they don't happen again, new crashes are becoming far more difficult to decipher, and investigators need training to keep up. In this decade, several crashes, including the crash of USAir Flight 427 at Pittsburgh, have defied explanation. "I think we're going to be looking at far fewer accidents, but in which the cause will be far more difficult to find," Hall said. Moving the TWA 800 fuselage would be difficult. Peter Goltz, the safety board's managing director, said the fuselage was reconstructed so that it could be dismantled into three to four sections. Those sections likely would be moved by barge down the coast and up the Potomac River to a location near the District. Getting the sections to Loudoun County would be the hard part. Likely the final move would become the 747's last flight. Goltz said the board is looking at wrapping them tightly in some material such as canvas--in effect "shrink-wrapping" them--and hauling them by heavy-lift helicopter to the new site. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), chairman of the House Appropriations transportation subcommittee, said the new training center would be "a wonderful thing" if technical problems with the move can be overcome, if the project actually saves federal funds in the long run, and if the wreckage is to be used as a training tool to help U.S. accident investigators remain the best in the world. Wolf, whose district would be home to the new center, said the project will be discussed in hearings to be held soon on NTSB's budget. The safety board expects to spend the next few months developing a plan for moving and using the reconstructed jetliner that it could then sell to Congress. The project would become not only a new GW facility but also the safety board's training facility. Goltz said the safety board also probably would move its crash laboratories to the site, except for the small labs that read out cockpit voice recorders and flight data recorders. George Washington University's Virginia campus already is home to the National Crash Analysis Center, which researches automobile safety using computer models developed at the school. "Shortly after the crash of TWA 800, we decided to make inquiries as to whether we might get involved with the NTSB and the FAA regarding aviation safety," said the campus's executive dean, Irwin Price. At a 1997 conference on aviation safety and security management that the school co-hosted with the White House, Vice President Gore announced that GW would begin a certification program for aviation safety. Price and his colleagues began discussions with the NTSB at that time. A month ago, the board proposed the idea of a partnership with GW's Virginia campus. Price said he could not give specifics, but the agreement would most likely mean the construction of a $15 million to $30 million facility at the Virginia campus, which would include classrooms, offices, laboratories and a large hangar housing the TWA wreckage and other teaching aids. "This is the only large reconstruction that's ever been done for an aircraft accident. The NTSB would like to mine as much information as they could from it," Price said. He said he has already briefed county and state officials and will soon begin preparing the community for the arrival of the wreckage, which likely would be open to public viewing in some form. "We're not bringing in terrorists," Price said. But "given that {the project} will be quite visible, we want the public to be knowledgeable sooner rather than later." CAPTION: The wreckage of TWA Flight 800 will be moved from a New York hangar to Loudoun County under a plan by the NTSB and George Washington University. ec