FAA Proposes Rule Reducing TWA 800 Type Fuel Tank Explosions - AeroSpace News FAA Proposes Rule Reducing TWA 800 Type Fuel Tank Explosions - AeroSpace News
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FAA Proposes Rule Reducing TWA 800 Type Fuel Tank Explosions

TWA 800 Accident AircraftWASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S.
Department of Transportation's Federal
Aviation Administration (FAA) today
proposed a rule that would make
aviation significantly safer by
requiring more than 3,200 existing and
certain new large passenger jets to
reduce flammability levels of fuel
tank vapors.


"Safer fuel tanks on aircraft will
help prevent the possibility of future
explosions and the tragic loss of
lives," U.S. Transportation Secretary
Norman Y. Mineta said.

The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking
(NPRM) would require aircraft
operators to reduce the flammability
levels of fuel tank vapors on the
ground and in the air to remove the
likelihood of a potential explosion
from an ignition source. The proposed
rule is designed to reduce the
likelihood of a repeat of the three
fuel tank explosions over the past 14
years, including the 1996 TWA 800
accident, that together have resulted
in 346 fatalities.



"This proposed rule is the next step
to close the book on fuel tank
explosions," said FAA Administrator
Marion C. Blakey. "We're proposing to
increase the level of aircraft safety
by reducing the potentially explosive
ingredient of flammable fuel vapors."


Blakey added that today's proposed
rule builds on more than 70 directives
during the past nine years designed to
eliminate ignition sources and to
change fuel tank design and
maintenance. Previous directives have
addressed issues such as pump
manufacturing discrepancies, wire
chafing, and protection of the Fuel
Quantity Indication System.


One possible solution allowed by the
rule is fuel tank inerting. In May
2002, FAA engineers unveiled a
prototype to replace oxygen in the
fuel tank with inert gas, which
prevents the potential ignition of
flammable vapors. Boeing has since
developed its own system, which will
be installed on new airplanes. The FAA
will consider data supporting other
means of compliance.


The FAA's proposal would apply to new
large airplane designs. In addition,
since the FAA would require a retrofit
of more than 3,200 Airbus and Boeing
aircraft with center wing fuel tanks
over seven years, Boeing 737, Boeing
747, and Airbus A320 models would be
retrofitted first. The preliminary
estimate for the total cost for the
U.S. fleet is approximately $808
million over 49 years, including $313
million for retrofitting the existing
fleet. The following is the projected
U.S. aircraft fleet that would be
retrofitted:


Airbus Models Number of
Aircraft

Airbus A320 906

Airbus A330 44


Boeing Models Number of
Aircraft

Boeing 737
1,149

Boeing 747 93

Boeing 757 581

Boeing 767 347

Boeing 777 157


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