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February 18, 2004

Preventing Another TWA 800

FAA Orders New Safety Devices To Prevent Fuel-Tank Explosions

The FAA announced Tuesday that it will require airlines to install safety devices in order to to prevent fuel-tank explosions. However, the cost of safety is not cheap, as the devices, which flush oxygen from the fuel tanks, will cost airlines millions of dollars to install. The FAA's move appears to meet one of the key recommendations that was issued by the National Transportation Safety Board after the crash in 1996 of TWA Flight 800, a Boeing 747 that exploded shortly after takeoff from New York City. All 230 people aboard died. The safety board concluded that a measure such as injecting non-flammable nitrogen gas into fuel tanks was needed to ensure the tanks could not explode. Since that time, the FAA has follo

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NTSB Chairman Weighs In On FAA Fuel Tank Rule

Better Late Than Never

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Ellen Engleman-Conners released Tuesday the a tatement Tuesday afternoon in reaction to the FAA's issuance of a final rule requiring fuel tank flame reduction systems in transport category aircraft, beginning with Boeing 747 models. The NTSB said it is generally pleased with the FAA's accomplishment comes despite the early industry and working group predictions that fuel tank inerting would be weight and cost prohibitive. Engleman-Conners commend the FAA for taking a two-pronged approach to the problem by recognizing that ignition source prevention alone cannot protect transport airplanes from this potential danger.

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Iris Scanning Wanted At European Airports

Frankfurt Debuts New Technology

Most business travellers want to see the use of biometric technology at airports, according to a survey from airline industry group IATA. Various international airports have begun testing biometric technology, which can scan the retina, iris, face or fingerprint to determine the accurate identity of an individual. The technology is designed to make passports and other identification documents harder to forge, as well as speed up check-in procedures. Amsterdam's Schiphol has introduced iris scanning, while London's Heathrow, New York's JFK and Washington's Dulles airports have also considered the scheme. Travellers at Germany's Frankfurt airport, continental Europe's busiest, are currently using the system via a three-second scan of their eyes. H

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Pilots Just Love Their Leather

AAL Pilots Can Now Wear Leather Jackets

Seeing that few fashion trends remain strong like leather, American Airlines will allow its pilots to sport leather bomber jackets in the cockpit. The black jackets, which will be optional, are seen as a way to honor the traditions of pilots, increase their cool factor with customers and, the airline hopes, cheer up employees in the wake of pay cuts and corporate instability. "We think that the finest aviators in the world deserve the finest uniform accessories," wrote Mark Hettermann, American's vice president of flight, in a letter to the airline's pilots. Soon after sending the note, the Fort Worth-based carrier was inundated with questions about the uniform change. Flight administration officials asked pilots to be patient in

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