It appears that the federal government – after 12 years of delay – may finally be getting around to dealing with a serious safety problem. A device to prevent airplane fuel tanks from exploding must now be installed on certain passenger jets and cargo planes. This comes 12 years after such an explosion destroyed TWA Flight 800, killing all 230 people on board. The new safety requirement, announced by Transportation Secretary Mary Peters, applies to new passenger and cargo planes that have center wing fuel tanks like TWA 800, a Boeing 747, which exploded over the Atlantic Ocean off Long Island on July 17, 1996, after takeoff from New York’s Kennedy Airport.
The rule also requires airlines to retrofit 2,730 existing Airbus and Boeing passenger planes that have center wing fuel tanks with the changes over the next nine years. The retrofit schedule is based on the normal aircraft maintenance schedule. Manufacturers have two years in which to comply with the rule, although Boeing is already making some new planes with the changes. The change brings to a close a long and troubled chapter in federal aviation safety. The National Transportation Safety Board identified the cause of the explosion — the ignition of oxygen in a partially empty fuel tank that had been sitting for hours in the sun before takeoff — not long after the accident. But the FBI persisted for a time in investigating the accident as a possible bombing.
The Federal Aviation Administration proposed a rule to prevent future explosions in 2005, but the aviation industry balked, saying the cost was too high. The final rule requires aircraft manufacturers and passenger airlines to install devices that replace oxygen, which is highly explosive, with inert nitrogen in fuel tanks as they empty. The cost of installing the new technology will range from $92,000 to $311,000 per aircraft, depending upon its size. As I understand it, the rule doesn’t require existing cargo planes to be retrofitted, apparently because of the cost.
Source: Associated Press
Contact us today for a free legal consultation with an experienced attorney.
Fields marked *may be required for submission.
If you would like to subscribe to the Jere Beasley Report digital edition, simply visit our Subscriptions page and provide the necessary information or call us at 800-898-2034.
Attorney Advertising - Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.