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Fri, Sep 23, 2011

NTSB: FAA Documentation Requirements Inadequate

Board Says Not Enough Info To Find Causes Of Airliner Cracks

The US National Transportation Safety Board says the FAA requirement for retention of documents related to the testing and maintenance of the skins of some Boeing airliners is inadequate to allow it to reach conclusions on the causes of recent ruptures of fuselages.

Two government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity told Bloomberg the lack of documentation has limited investigations into an American Airlines 757-200 which burst open in flight last year due to skin which was determined to be too thin, and a similar, but larger tear in the roof of a Southwest 737-300 traced to rivets not being installed properly.

Bloomberg notes that an FAA rule dating to 1964 required that testing documents be retained for only two years. In April of 2010, that was increased to ten years, but both the airliners involved in these cases were manufactured more than ten years ago, under the old standard.

During the rulemaking process for the update in 2010, General Electric suggested the FAA require that records be kept for 40 years. The FAA instead took the advice of an industry committee, noting that a manufacturer “may maintain records longer if it chooses.”

Julie O'Donnell, a spokeswoman for Boeing, told Bloomberg the company follows the FAA rules for record retention, "diligently."

FMI: www.ntsb.gov

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