Dutch Authorities Demand Modifications on New Boeing
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) _ Four European nations will ban commercial flights by Boeing Co.’s new 747-400 series unless the U.S. company makes design changes for greater safety, a Dutch spokesman said today.
″We have asked Boeing to implement some minor modifications in the 400 series’ design,″ said transport ministry spokesman Harald Hameleers.
″We think the 747-400 is a safe plane but there is always room for improvement,″ he added.
Hameleers said the Dutch demanded modifications ″months ago″ in concert with civil aviation agencies in Britain, West Germany, and France, who together form the Joint Airworthiness Requirements committee.
″We will not issue a full certificate of airworthiness unless Boeing adopts our requirements,″ Hameleer said in an interview.
The Dutch are taking a lead role on the issue and Alain Monnier, an official of France’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation, said the Netherlands spoke in the name of all four member countries. The committee meets in Paris on May 22 to discuss Boeing’s response, according to Hameleers.
It was not immediately possible to get comment from Boeing Co.
The Dutch move might spell trouble for the Netherlands state airline, KLM, which expects to receive its first 747-400 at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport on Thursday.
The Dutch flag carrier has ordered 13 of the airplanes costing an estimated $1.5 billion, according to KLM spokesman Peter Wellhuener.
If Boeing refuses to cooperate, the Dutch Civil Aviation Agency only will issue a permit allowing a single non-commercial flight on Thursday from Boeing headquarters in Seattle, Wash., to the Netherlands, according to Hameleers.
Such a permit does not allow scheduled commercial flights, he said.
At issue are changes in the design of floor beams supporting the 400 series’ upper deck, and better separation of certain electrical circuits, said Hameleers.
″It’s nothing earth-shattering, but Boeing has been making trouble on the issue,″ Hameleers said. He claimed the circuitry changes could be made in a few hours, while the floor beam modifications would ″probably require some study.″
Wellhuener said the airline planned to use the new planes from early June, but may have to make other arrangements.
The Dutch carrier was to be the first European airline to fly the 747-400. Other European customers include British Airways, West Germany’s Lufthansa, and Air France.