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News Briefs

Flight 587 Probe Finds Flaw In Tail Fin’s Composite Material


Federal safety investigators said Tuesday they have discovered internal damage in the tail fin of the American Airlines jet that crashed last November in New York, but further testing is needed to determine if it occurred before or after the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board said NASA scientists examining the 27-foot tail fin found that some layers of the advanced composite material used to build it had peeled apart from each other, a phenomenon known as “delamination.” It was the first tentative indication of possible flaws in the material.

The tail fin of the Airbus A300 jet broke off shortly after takeoff from John F. Kennedy International Airport, and Flight 587 crashed into a nearby neighborhood, killing all 260 aboard and five people on the ground.

The crash was the first civil aviation disaster involving the failure of a major component built with composites, which are lighter and stronger than most metals. Composites are built of many layers of carbon fibers embedded in a special resin and molded together under heat and pressure. They lose their strength when delamination occurs.

Argentina to Seek ‘Common Currency’ With Brazil


Amid renewed public protests and violent attacks on foreign-owned banks, President Eduardo Duhalde declared Tuesday that Argentina would attempt to deepen ties within Latin America and confront the region’s economic “domination” by the industrialized world.

In remarks that signaled a shift away from Argentina’s decade-long stance as Washington’s closest ally in South America, Duhalde called for the creation of a common currency with neighboring Brazil, and for a united front against “protectionist” U.S. trade barriers blocking Latin American agricultural exports.

During the 1990s, Argentina embraced U.S.-backed economic policies and received the coveted “non-NATO” ally status reserved for countries such as South Korea and Egypt. But Duhalde’s comments Tuesday to foreign journalists appeared to foreshadow a challenge to Washington’s economic interests in the region.

Analysts say the demands by Argentina and Brazil -- the region’s third-largest and largest economies, respectively -- for a relaxed U.S. policy on agricultural imports are unlikely to be granted by Washington.

New Baggage Screening Measure To Begin Friday


As the airline industry scrambles to meet its first major security deadline, government and aviation officials said they do not anticipate major disruptions when new baggage screening measures go into effect Friday.

Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta is scheduled to explain the new measures in a speech Wednesday. But the plan is only temporary, until a system for checking all bags with specialized explosive-detection machines can be put in place.

“The airlines have been particularly vocal about their preparedness, which indicates to me that they are expecting this to go smoothly,” said Kevin Mitchell, chairman of the Business Travel Coalition, which monitors the industry. “There are probably some airports where they won’t get it right on the first day, but, by and large, we will get through it.”