Boeing has requested airlines to conduct inspections on its 737 Max jets following the discovery of potential issues with the rudder control system. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirmed this request and stated that it would closely monitor the inspections. The inspections were prompted by incidents where a bolt with a missing nut was found during routine maintenance by an international operator and an undelivered aircraft had a loosely tightened nut.
Boeing has issued inspection guidance to airlines and urged them to inform the company of any findings. The FAA will maintain communication with Boeing and impacted airlines throughout the inspection process and may consider additional actions based on further discoveries of loose or missing hardware. However, Boeing emphasized that no in-flight incidents have been caused by this condition so far. Routine checks performed by crews before an aircraft pushes back from the gate are expected to spot any issues with the rudder control system.
U.S. carriers such as United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines have 737 Max jets in their fleet. However, none of these carriers anticipate any operational impacts due to the inspections. Southwest Airlines, for example, stated that it is currently conducting these inspections as part of routine overnight maintenance. Each inspection is estimated to take approximately two hours per plane, and Alaska Airlines expects to complete the process by the first half of January.
Boeing’s 737 Max jets were grounded worldwide for 20 months following two crashes in 2018 and 2019, resulting in the deaths of 346 people. The investigations primarily focused on an automated flight-control system that pushed the nose of the plane down based on erroneous sensor readings. Criticism arose when it was discovered that Boeing had not informed pilots and airlines about this system until after the first crash. The FAA also faced scrutiny for its approval process for the Max jets, prompting the agency to introduce a more detailed certification process for large planes and mandate safety disclosures.
Boeing has assured customers and federal regulators that it will provide regular updates on the progress of the inspections. The company is committed to addressing any issues promptly and ensuring the safety of its aircraft. Additionally, Boeing will incorporate the inspections into its delivery process for all future 737 Max planes, further strengthening the reliability of these aircraft.
The request for inspections on Boeing’s 737 Max jets highlights the company’s commitment to proactive safety measures. By addressing the potential loose bolt issue in the rudder control system, Boeing aims to maintain the highest standards of safety and prevent any unforeseen incidents. The collaboration between Boeing, airlines, and aviation authorities such as the FAA demonstrates a collective effort to prioritize passenger safety and ensure the continued airworthiness of the 737 Max fleet.