The Federal Aviation Administration has added 60 days to a public comment period on a proposed safety order stemming from the investigation into the explosion of TWA Flight 800.
The extension gives more time for Boeing 747 operators and others, including Boeing, to respond to a proposed airworthiness directive. That order, proposed Dec. 1, would require older 747s to better shield and separate wires for the fuel-quantity measuring system from other wiring to prevent the possibility of power surges entering fuel tanks.
The initial 90-day comment period expired March 3. The proposed order would require 650 jetliners worldwide to be modified by the changes within a year after the directive is formally adopted.
The additional 60 days will give Boeing more time to propose a modification, said Ronald Wojnar, manager of the Transport Airplane Directorate at the FAA in Renton. Without the delay, he said, airlines “would be left to fend for themselves” to comply.
When the airworthiness directive was proposed, Boeing disputed the FAA’s conclusion that a potential hazard existed, saying energy levels from other electrical circuits in a test airplane weren’t high enough to cause a spark inside the tank. The company said it planned more tests to respond to the proposed order.
Flight 800, which had just left New York for Paris, blew up and crashed off Long Island in July 1996, killing 230 people. While the crash remains under study, investigators say plane was destroyed by an explosion in the center fuel tank, probably because of mechanical failure.