Boeing Defends 777

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SEATTLE: The Boeing aircraft company hotly denied a story in Thursday's Business Week Magazine claiming that its 777 passenger jet may be unsafe. The magazine quoted unidentified engineers from the Federal Aviation Administration as saying that tests on the engine fan blades in the giant aircraft, which was certified by the FAA last April, were inadequate and that a break in one of them could "lead to catastrophe." The popular long-haul aircraft, already in use on United's daily London to Washington run, can carry up to 550 passengers. Boeing spokesman Brian Ames dismissed the report as "based on innuendo, hearsay and anonymous sources," but not before Boeing's stock fell two dollars a share. "We specifically tested for the fan blade stability issue and ruled it out as a problem," said Ames. According to Business Week, "numerous FAA engineers and inspectors fear that if one of those giant blades were to break in flight, tremendous vibrations could occur that might severely destabilize the plane." The FAA issued a statement claiming "complete confidence" in the plane.