In a recent development, Boeing has requested airlines to conduct inspections on its 737 Max jets due to a potential issue with loose bolts in the rudder control system. Both Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have confirmed this information and the FAA has stated that it will closely monitor the targeted inspections.
The guidance for inspections was issued by Boeing after an international operator discovered a bolt with a missing nut during routine maintenance. In a separate incident, Boeing found an undelivered aircraft that had a nut which was not properly tightened. However, Boeing has assured that the issue has been rectified on the identified airplane.
As a precautionary measure, Boeing is recommending all operators to inspect their 737 Max airplanes and inform the company of any findings. The company will continue to provide updates to its customers and federal regulators on the progress of the inspections.
The FAA has assured that it will maintain contact with Boeing and the affected airlines throughout the inspection process. If any further instances of loose or missing hardware are found, the FAA will consider additional action. It is important to note that there have been no in-flight incidents caused by this condition so far.
Boeing has emphasized that crews’ routine checks would indicate if the rudder is not functioning properly before the aircraft pushes back from the gate. The inspections are estimated to take approximately two hours per plane and will be completed before delivery of all Boeing aircraft.
Major US carriers such as United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines have 737 Max jets in their fleet. All four carriers have stated that they do not expect any operational impacts from these inspections. Southwest, for instance, mentioned that it is already conducting these inspections during routine overnight maintenance. Alaska Airlines anticipates completing the process by the first half of January.
It is worth noting that the 737 Max jets were grounded worldwide for a period of 20 months following two crashes in 2018 and 2019 that resulted in the deaths of 346 people. The crashes were attributed to an automated flight-control system that pushed the nose of the plane down based on faulty sensor readings. Boeing faced criticism for not informing pilots and airlines about the system until after the first crash.
In response to these incidents, the FAA has implemented a more detailed certification process for large planes and has mandated safety disclosures. This is aimed at preventing similar incidents in the future and ensuring the safety of passengers and crew.
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it