Safety checks for 747s

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The Independent Online
Airlines have been asked to find and fix potential ignition sources in or near the central fuel tanks of Boeing 747 aircraft, the Federal Aviation Administration said yesterday. It said it issued two proposed airworthiness directives in light of recent tests conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) as part of its investigation into the explosion of TWA flight 800 which killed more than 230 people in July 1996. In a statement the FAA described the measures as preventative.

"Although the NTSB has not yet determined the cause of this tragic accident, and we know of no evidence that these parts played any role in the accident, the FAA is ordering these changes to ensure that we take every practical step to ensure the continued safety of the Boeing 747," FAA administrator Jane Garvey said.

Flight 800 went down off the coast of New York when its central fuel tank exploded. The Federal Bureau of Investigation last week formally ruled out a criminal act, leaving the NTSB to pinpoint the source of ignition that sparked the blast.

At a NTSB hearing in Baltimore next month, investigators will present evidence gathered so far.