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Fri, Aug 24, 2007

Investigators Discover Pierced Fuel Tank On China Airlines 737

"We Believe That Caused Fuel To Leak Out"

The multi-national team of investigators searching for answers to Monday's China Airlines 737 explosion found not only a hole in the right fuel tank, but the bolt that pierced it Thursday.

The Boeing 737-800 exploded shortly after landing at Okinawa's Naha airport in southern Japan, as ANN reported.

The bolt, from the right wing slat, punched a hole roughly one and a half inches in diameter, said Kazushige Daiki, chief investigator at Japan's Aircraft and Railway Accidents Investigation Commission.

"The bolt pierced through the fuel tank, and we believe that caused fuel to leak out," Daiki said.

A fuel leak of some sort was immediately suspected as ground workers witnessed a large amount of fuel leaking from the right engine while the jet was taxiing to the gate.

As much as 5,500 pounds of fuel is suspected of having leaked, according to the Associated Press.

An earlier suspicion of damage to the pylon connecting the engine to the right wing has been pretty much ruled out, ministry spokesman Yusuke Asakura said.

Upon hearing of the findings, Japan's Transport Ministry ordered three Japanese airlines which own Boeing 737-800s to inspect the bolt in question as well as the slats before their next flights Friday, said Asakura.

The Kyodo News Agency quoted Japanese transport officials as saying Boeing had received several reports of similar cases in Dec. 2005 and went so far as to advise airlines to inspect these areas on their 737-800s.

Mark Hooper, Boeing spokesperson, refused to confirm or deny the report, as the "investigation has not concluded."

FMI: www.china-airlines.com, http://araic.assistmicro.co.jp/araic/commission/eng-prevent.html

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