FAA Issues Call for Safety Checks of Boeing Planes By ANDY PASZTOR June 11, 2008
U.S. aviation regulators have proposed mandatory inspections of at least hundreds of Boeing Co. jetliners to check for potential fuel-system problems that could cause engines to stop running and prevent pilots from restarting them.
The proposed regulations, released by the Federal Aviation Administration last week, would require airlines to look for air leaks that "could result in multiengine flameout," or engine stoppages. The proposal says the problem could result in "an inability to restart the engines, and consequent forced landing of the airplane."
The proposed rules technically affect more than 3,500 aircraft flown by U.S. carriers, but both FAA and Boeing officials said many of the planes already have been checked. Boeing previously changed the design of its fuel systems and urged carriers to conduct such operational checks last year, though it isn't clear how many planes have been inspected so far.
The FAA said the move, which applies to nearly all plane models, was prompted by engine stoppages on six different Boeing aircraft between 2002 and 2004. Some of those incidents occurred during flight, while others took place during taxiing, according to the FAA. The incidents didn't result in any crashes or injuries.
Boeing and FAA officials said the latest measure isn't considered a high-priority safety item, particularly in light of how long ago the incidents occurred and the fact that the agency hasn't called for any urgent or emergency action.
Still, it is unusual for the FAA to issue identical inspection mandates at one time, covering such a range of models. Boeing's family of airliners share common fuel-system design features.
FAA and Boeing spokeswomen said the proposed rules aren't connected to the crash-landing of a British Airways PLC Boeing 777 at London's Heathrow International Airport this year after its engines failed to respond to pilot commands for increased thrust.