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Safety officials say little progress on reducing fuel tank flammability

Updated:
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Nearly nine years after a fuel tank explosion caused the fatal crash of TWA Flight 800, safety officials say little has been done to reduce the flammability of vapors in aircraft fuel tanks.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced in February 2004 that it found a filtering system to make fuel vapors less likely to ignite. The agency said that it would propose in the fall of 2004 a regulation requiring that such systems be installed on large aircraft.

But no rule has been proposed yet.

National Transportation Safety Board executive director Dan Campbell said that little has been done to reduce the flammability of fuel vapors.

``We're not significantly different than we were in '96,'' Campbell said during a briefing with reporters.

Campbell acknowledged that the FAA has reduced sources of flame and sparks that can cause fuel vapors to explode. The FAA has ordered airlines to make more than 60 changes to eliminate potential ignition sources, such as replacing fuel tanks with faulty wiring.

TWA Flight 800 crashed off the coast of Long Island, N.Y., on July 17, 1996, killing all 230 people aboard. In the past 15 years, there have been three fuel tank explosions, including the TWA accident, resulting in 346 deaths.
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