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Task Force Will Urge Mandatory Modifications on Aging Jetliners

From Associated Press

A special task force of manufacturers, airline operators and regulatory agencies is expected to recommend today that mandatory modifications be made on aging jetliners.

The group will make its findings public at a news conference after meeting to finalize its recommendations.

The special committee, known as the Aging Transport Working Group, was created as part of a 150-member panel to study the fitness of older transport aircraft.

For the past nine months, it has examined the maintenance and repair records of Boeing 747s, 737s and 727s and scores of manufacturers’ service orders and government directives affecting the planes.

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The group has studied the various methods used for aircraft inspection as well as the possible need to intensify the inspection process or to make modifications to the aircraft themselves. In some cases, the group is expected to recommend that areas which previously were allowed to be inspected for possible problems should now be permanently modified to correct any defect.

The group’s report comes only days after an older United Airlines Boeing 747 suffered sudden decompression over Hawaii that resulted in the deaths of nine people.

The task force’s recommendations, if adopted by the Federal Aviation Administration, which has representatives on the panel, would be a departure from a system that relied primarily on inspection orders.

The average age of the world’s 8,800 passenger airliners is about 13 years, with half the planes in many major U.S. fleets well over 15 years old, according to Avmark, an appraisal and consulting firm.

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A group that is looking at airliners manufactured by McDonnell Douglas and foreign builders is to release its findings before the end of the year.


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