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Northwest Airlines Fire Prompts Order to Check 28 747s

September 26, 1991

SEATTLE (AP) _ The two planes that President Bush uses as Air Force One are among 28 Boeing 747s the government has ordered inspected for fuel-system design problems, but Bush’s planes were found to be fine, officials said.

The Federal Aviation Administration directive stems from an engine fire last week in a Northwest Airlines 747-400 that returned to Narita airport near Tokyo. Nearly 50 passengers were injured sliding down escape chutes.

A fuel-system design problem is suspected of causing the fire.

The FAA has since ordered airlines to check fuel lines, cables and drains in engine struts on 28 Boeing jumbo jets, including the two 747-200s that serve as Air Force One.

Regular inspections of the two engine struts closest to the fuselage must continue until a new design that eliminates the potential fire hazard is developed, FAA spokesman Dave Duff said.

″We have directed Boeing to come up with some different design configurations or changes″ in the struts, he said Wednesday.

The order covers the two presidential planes operated by the Air Force, six planes flown by United Airlines and Northwest Airlines and 20 registered outside the United States, officials said.

The Air Force planes were inspected at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., after the FAA order was issued and were found to be fine, said Carolyn Russell, a spokeswoman for Boeing Defense and Space Group in Wichita, Kan. The planes were built at Boeing’s 747 plant in Everett, Wash., but electronics and other specialized gear was installed in Wichita.

Foreign carriers generally follow FAA directives. Jack Gamble of Boeing Commercial Air Group refused to identify the foreign carriers and Duff said he did not know which airlines outside the United States were affected.

The FAA airworthiness directive covers all 19 747-400s, the only model of the jumbo jet now in production, plus the two 747-200s and seven 747-300s that were delivered.

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