The NTSB attributed the crash to pilot error and TWA training and maintenance issues. According to the report, the take-off was improperly aborted by the captain shortly after liftoff, due to the erroneous activation of the stick-shaker stall warning device, when in fact the aircraft was performing normally and could have taken off safely. The extremely hard landing, after the plane gained only 60 feet (18 m) in altitude, caused damage to the right wing, spilling fuel which was then ingested into the engines and started the fire.
In addition to the nine flight attendants on board, there were five additional off-duty flight attendants who assisted in the evacuation. Although only three of eight exit doors were available for use, the evacuation was completed within two minutes. 
Oakland rapper Saafir was a passenger on the plane and injured his back while jumping to the ground, which eventually confined him to a wheelchair.