WASHINGTON, July 15 The U.S. government is
expected to introduce a revised plan on Wednesday to reduce the
risk of fuel tank explosions on commercial jetliners 12 years
after TWA Flight 800 was lost over the Atlantic, according to
aviation industry sources.
Transportation and aviation safety officials will make the
announcement at a Virginia facility that holds the partially
reconstructed jumbo jet that was destroyed on a flight from New
York to Paris in July 1996, killing all 230 people aboard.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded
an electrical short likely ignited vapors inside the jetliner's
mammoth center fuel tank shortly after takeoff from John F.
Fuel tank explosions are extremely rare but there have been
a few other known examples worldwide that occurred when planes
were on the ground.
Boeing and Europe's Airbus EAD.PA are the world's largest
commercial aircraft manufacturers.
Details of the updated measure were not disclosed ahead of
the announcement and Transportation Department and FAA
officials declined comment.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed a plan
in 2005 to retrofit more than 3,000 jetliners with a fuel tank
safety device over a period of several years. Airlines balked
at the expense estimated in excess of several hundred million
The new plan is expected to cover fewer planes and carriers
are expected to again raise cost concerns.
"I'm pleased it's finally happening but I'm disappointed
that it took so long," said Jim Hall, chairman of the safety
board at the time of the disaster. "The good news is that the
issue of explosive vapors is being addressed."
Hall, who has worked with families of TWA Flight 800
victims to press for action, said he had not been briefed on
the Transportation Department's plan.
Congress has recently pressed for action on the measure as
has the safety board.
Domestic airlines are taking delivery of few aircraft now
due to severe financial constraints caused by skyrocketing jet
fuel prices. Airlines are also grounding older, less efficient
planes to save on fuel. Industry experts do not expect those
aircraft to ever fly again for U.S. airlines.
The FAA has spent years on regulation aimed mostly at
trying to reduce the risk of electrical shorts.
(Reporting by John Crawley; editing by Carol Bishopric)