Over 300 Boeing 737 jets, including Boeing Max, have been found to potentially have wing parts that could have been manufactured improperly and not meet the regulatory requirements on strength and durability, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. The FAA came to this conclusion after a joint investigation conducted with the help of Boeing themselves.
The FAA now plans to order airlines to remove these parts and replace them on affected aircraft.
The FAA released a statement saying that as many as 149 leading edge slat tracks that had been manufactured by a Boeing supplier could be liable to premature cracks and failure. Slats are placed on the front of the wing and they move along a track in order to create lift. They are vital for taking off and landing an aircraft.
According to the FAA, a complete failure of a leading edge slat track would not necessarily result in the loss of the craft; there is still the risk of in-flight damage presented by a failed part.
Across the world, 179 Max planes and 133 NG planes are affected. Of these, 33 Boeing Max and 32 Boeing 737 NG are from the United States.
Boeing said that they had found that even though not many planes were likely to have the suspected damaged parts, they recommend that dozens of aircraft be checked to accurately assess the potential for damage.
The FAA promised to issue airworthiness directive mandating service actions to have the parts removed and that airlines must comply with these actions within ten days. They also said that they had taken steps to alert international civil aviation authorities about the issues with the Boeing craft.
These requirements to remove the parts from the affected 737 NGs within just ten days is going to be something of a problem for the 737 operators who need to have enough aircraft running to meet summer travel demands. Airlines operating 737 craft have been forced to cancel thousands of flights across August as the planes needed are grounded.
The 737 NG is the aircraft model that preceded the current 737 Max, which was first delivered back in 2017.
Boeing has announced they are going to offer replacement parts to airlines to minimize downtime as the repair work is undertaken. They say that it should only take a few days at most for the repairs to be completed.
Aviation authorities around the world, including the American FAA, grounded the 737 Max following the fatal crash in Europe that happened this past March. All 157 people aboard the craft were killed in the accident. Less than five months after this crash, there was another one in Ethiopia. This time, a Boeing 737 Max came down in the Java Sea shortly after taking off from Indonesia. The crash, which occurred in October of that same year, resulted in the deaths of all 189 people on board.
The automated anti-stall system of the 737 Max is currently being investigated as a potential factor in the crashes. Boeing said that they had issued a software update for the system, but regulatory bodies still need to sign off on the changes before they can be applied by airlines and the aircraft can be used again.
The FAA is yet to offer a timeline on when the 737 Max will be re-certified and can be used for flights again.