In 1996, TWA Flight 800 exploded killing more than 200 people. The aviation accident was the result of a fuel tank explosion that occurred shortly after the Boeing 747 took from John F. Kennedy Airport in Queens. In response to the tragedy, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board developed regulations that required airlines to retrofit the fuel tanks of many older planes. Boeing was tasked with providing the airlines with instructions on what needed to be done to avoid another fuel tank explosion. Boeing’s failure to deliver those instructions according to the timeline set forth in the regulations has led the FAA to propose a $13.5 million fine. The fine is the second largest proposed in the history of the FAA.
The delays have not affected all Boeing aircraft. The new regulations require a nitrogen protective system designed to make it more difficult for volatile gases, such as oxygen, to build up. These systems have been installed in all Boeing planes made since August 2010. The systems are also in place in all Boeing 737s, the most common Boeing model, since June 2008. The delays have affected the retrofitting of older Boeing 747s and 757s. Those planes can be found in the fleets flown by Delta, United, Continental, American Airlines and US Airways. According to the FAA, 383 planes registered in the United States have been impacted by Boeing’s delays.
A representative from the aircraft manufacturer indicated that Boeings is “committed” to continuing efforts in installing the nitrogen protective system.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, “FAA proposes fining Boeing $13.5 million,” 13 July 2012