Boeing Urges Airlines to Check for Loose Bolt in newer 737 MAX Aircraft
Aircraft manufacturer Boeing is urging airlines to check for a possible loose bolt in Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. A statement from the US aviation regulator, the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), said it is closely monitoring targeted inspections of Boeing 737 MAX airplanes to look for a possible loose bolt in the rudder control system.
Under consultation with the FAA, Boeing has issued a Multi-Operator Message (MOM), urging operators of newer single-aisle airplanes to inspect specific tie rods that control rudder movement for possible loose hardware.
The issuing of the MOM is the latest in a series of problems that have plagued the aircraft, not least two fatal crashes. The aircraft was grounded worldwide following the 2018 Lion Air disaster in Indonesia followed by the Ethiopian airlines crash the following year. The two accidents happened within six months of each other claiming 346 lives.
The FAA has said it will remain in contact with Boeing and the airlines while the inspections are underway. The agency is asking the airlines to work through their approved Safety Management Systems to identify whether any loose hardware has been detected previously and to provide the agency with details on how quickly these two-hour inspections can be completed.
The FAA will consider additional action based on any further discovery of loose or missing hardware. Boeing recommended the inspections after an international operator discovered a bolt with a missing nut while performing routine maintenance on a mechanism in the rudder-control linkage. The company discovered an additional undelivered aircraft with a nut that was not properly tightened.
According to Reuters, the issue does not impact older 737 Next Generation planes. In a statement sent to Reuters, Boeing said the issue identified on the particular airplane has been remedied. The company added, ‘Out of an abundance of caution, we are recommending operators inspect their 737 MAX airplanes and inform us of any findings. We informed the FAA and our customers and will continue to keep them aware of the progress.’
The European equivalent of the FAA, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) gave the go-ahead for the return of the Boeing 737 MAX to European airspace in January 2021 following two years on the ground. At the time, EASA issued a statement in which it said that following extensive assessments, independent from both Boeing and the FAA, that the aircraft met the Organizations safety standards. EASA also said at the time that while it had every confidence that the aircraft was safe, it would continue to monitor 737 MAX operations closely as the aircraft resumed service.