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FAA plans $13.6 million fine against Boeing over fuel tank explosions


When TWA Flight 800 exploded shortly after departure in 1996, the accident highlighted the importance of eliminating combustable fuel vapors in partially empty aircraft fuel tanks. So the FAA gave airline maufacturers until December 2010 to issue service bulletins on how to modify aircraft to inject inert gases into fuel tanks to displace fuel vapors. But Boeing missed that deadline by more than 300 days for two of its aircraft models, leading the FAA to propose $13.6 milllion worth of fines on the company. Boeing’s guidance for 747s didn’t come until October 2011, or 301 days late. And its bulletin for 757s was more than a year late. Meanwhile, Airbus met the agency’s Dec. 2010 deadline for all its aircraft. Aircraft operators have until 2014 to retrofit half their fleets to meet the respective service bulletins, and until 2017 to complete modifications on all their aircraft.