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Aviation regulators propose $13.6 million fine against Boeing

July 13, 2012|Bloomberg

U.S. aviation regulators proposed to fine Boeing Co. $13.6 million for delays in telling airlines how to install devices on 383 aircraft to prevent fuel-tank explosions.

Boeing was given a Dec. 27, 2010 deadline to submit instructions on how to add the systems in its U.S.-registered 747 jumbo jets and 757 single-aisle planes, according an e- mailed statement today by the Federal Aviation Administration. The Chicago-based company missed the deadline for 747s by 301 days, and was 406 days late for 757s, according to the FAA release.

"We are committed to ensuring the safety of the flying public," U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in the statement. "Manufacturers must provide the necessary instructions so the airlines can comply with this important safety regulation."

The fine stems from an FAA regulation that requires airlines to install devices that blanket center fuel tanks with non-flammable nitrogen gas to prevent explosions. The rule resulted from the explosion in a Trans World Airlines 747 off New York on July 17, 1996, that killed all 230 aboard.

The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board ruled that a spark triggered an explosion in the tank, tearing the jetliner apart.

Boeing officials just received word of the FAA's proposed penalty and were reviewing it, Myles Kotay, a company spokesman, said in a phone interview.

Airbus SAS, Boeing's main competitor for civilian aircraft, met the deadline, according to the statement.

The fuel-tank rule requires airlines to install the devices on half their fleets by 2014 and complete the effort by 2017.

"The FAA expects that most, if not all, operators will meet both the 2014 and 2017 deadlines, even if they received service instructions later than anticipated," the agency said.

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