I still don't know the name of the film and would love to know it.
this intriguing film is called "Sole Survivor", and was a TV movie made in 1970, directed by Paul Stanley and starring William Shatner.
The ghosts are the crew of an American B-17, which crashed in the Libyan desert during WW2.
The wreckage is found twenty-odd years later, and among the recovery party is a USAF general (Richard Basehart) who was the young navigator who got them lost, then bailed out on them.
" The film in question ISN'T "The Survivor" (the film of the James Herbert book).
The plot for The Survivor was that one man survives a plane crash (I think totally unharmed) and in his struggle to come to terms with this uncovers the fact that the plane was sabotaged/blown up. He is a manifestation of the will of all the lost souls and as soon as the truth is reveals he dies. That was a different story where a survivor of a crash became a highranking officer who had wrongly claimed that his plane had gone down in the Mediterranean.