NTSB's Push For Safer Airline Fuel Tanks (Still)...

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FAA Is Behind Schedule

The NTSB is growing frustrated with the FAA's failure to require airliners to install devices that would prevent fuel-tank explosions like the one that brought down TWA 800 in 1996, The Washington Post reported last week. Airlines have asked the FAA to delay, the Post said, arguing that they have already addressed the flammability issues and that the expensive devices, which cost up to $220,000 per aircraft, are unnecessary. The FAA had announced in February 2004 that it would have a new rule in place by fall of that year to require the new systems for Boeing and Airbus airliners, but the rule has yet to be published. FAA spokeswoman Alison Duquette told the Post a proposed rule "has been drafted and is getting final clearance." FAA spokesman Greg Martin told The Associated Press that the agency already has taken action to eliminate the factors that can cause jet-fuel vapors to explode: sparks or flames, and a deadly combination of concentrated oxygen and fuel. "Although a rigid formal rulemaking process takes time, we've moved aggressively to remove both ignition sources and flammability levels," Martin said.