Boeing 737s under scrutiny after US regulators order tail inspections
US authorities ordered inspections of more than 1,000 of Boeing's best-selling 737 aircrafts Monday after identifying potentially faulty parts that could result in pilots losing control of the aircraft.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an airworthiness directive that requires airlines to carry out inspections of components on the 737's tail. The FAA's concerns center on the lack of an anti-corrosive coating on pins used to attach the 737s' horizontal stabiliser – also known as the tail plane.
"We are issuing this [airworthiness directive] to prevent premature failure of the attach pins, which could cause reduced structural integrity of the horizontal stabiliser to fuselage attachment, resulting in loss of control of the airplane," the FAA said.
The FAA said the inspection was "prompted by reports of an incorrect procedure used to apply the wear and corrosion protective surface coating to attach pins of the horizontal stabilizer rear spar."
In a statement Boeing said the FAA airworthiness directive (AD) had been planned for some time and follows a standard federal process which has been underway over the last year. "This AD is not linked to any in-service event but rather a finding of a surface finish degradation on recently installed attachment pins.
"The AD requires inspection and possible replacement of the pins by 56,000 flight cycles. This long compliance time for accomplishing the work specified in the AD and Service Bulletin documents does not require immediate action for any currently flying 737s. The 737NG currently flying with the most cycles is at 40,000 flight cycles," Boeing said in a statement.
Earlier this month, terrified passengers had to swim to safety after a brand new Boeing 737 crashed off the coast of Bali. The Lion Air flight lost control as the jet approached the runway. All 108 people aboard survived.
The 737 is the best-selling jet airliner in history and has been in continuous manufacture since 1967. News of the inspections comes as Boeing is trying to get its troubled 787 Dreamliner jet back in the air after battery problems led to a global grounding.
Boeing has now conducted two flights tests in the hope of gaining FAA approval for its battery fixes. The company was not immediately available for comment on the 737 issue.
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