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Boeing tells airlines to check 737 Max planes

The company insisted on inspections to look for “a possible loose bolt in the rudder control system,” US aviation regulator says

Boeing has urged air operators to inspect its 737 Max planes for a possible flaw in a key part of their flight systems. The company’s best-selling airliner has been plagued by a series of technical issues, some of which played a role in causing two fatal crashes several years ago.

In a statement on Thursday, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it was monitoring targeted inspections of 737 Max planes to “look for a possible loose bolt in the rudder control system,” which stabilizes the aircraft during the flight.

It said that Boeing recommended the inspections after an unnamed international operator discovered “a bolt with a missing nut while performing routine maintenance.” The company later identified another plane – not yet in service – with a nut that was “not properly tightened,” according to the statement.

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A spokesman for Boeing said the issue on the particular airplane had been rectified and that inspections were being conducted “out of an abundance of caution.” The company also claimed that there had been no “in-service incidents” caused by the possible flaw and that flight crews performed checks of the rudder. The inspection includes removing an access panel and a visual check-up, with the entire process taking about two hours per plane.

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Meanwhile, the FAA said that it would remain in contact with Boeing and airlines while inspections are underway, adding that it would “consider additional action based on any further discovery of loose or missing hardware.”

The Boeing 737 Max, which made its maiden flight in 2016 and has been produced in the hundreds since has been notoriously plagued by technical issues. It was grounded for 20 months after two crashes in 2018 and 2019, which killed 346 people in Ethiopia and Indonesia. In 2019, the company admitted that its automatic flight control system played a certain role in the two tragedies.

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While the FAA cleared the 737 Max to fly again after the company fixed the flaws, Boeing said in April that it discovered a “manufacturing issue” affecting a significant number of undelivered planes after one operator used a “non-standard manufacturing process” to install fittings in the rear fuselage. At the time, the company insisted that it was not “an immediate safety of flight issue.”

December 29, 2023 at 01:11PM
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