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Monday, July 16, 2012

FAA Proposes $13.5 Million Fine Against Boeing

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Friday proposed a $13.57 million fine against Boeing for failing to meet their deadline for submitting instructions on helping airlines install devices to reduce fuel tank explosions on their older aircraft.

The proposed fine is the second largest in the agency’s history as they look for manufacturers and airlines to comply with the safety regulations implemented to prevent fuel tank explosions in aircraft, like the one that occurred on the 1996 TWA Flight 800 out of New York City killing 230 people on a Boeing 747 when the fuel tank exploded minutes after takeoff.

In 2008, FAA set a deadline of December 27th, 2010 for manufacturers to submit their instructions for retrofitting planes that were susceptible to fuel tank explosions. The instructions were to explain how to replace oxygen in the airplane fuel tanks with non-flammable nitrogen gas to reduce the risk of explosion.

According to FAA, Boeing did not submit the instructions until October 2011 for 747 jets, and was approximately 406 days late on submitting them for 757 jets.

The agency’s “Fuel Tank Flammability Rule” also requires all airlines to retrofit half of their fleets by 2014, completing the retrofit by 2017. In total, there are 383 U.S.-registered Boeing aircraft that need the fuel tank upgrades, according to FAA.

“We take this matter very seriously,” said Acting FAA Administrator Michael Huerta. “We have issued hundreds of directives to eliminate fuel ignition sources over the past 16 years, and this step will add another layer of safety.”

Boeing has not responded to FAA’s proposed fine, and they have 30 days from receipt of the agency’s enforcement letter to respond.

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