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Airlines urged to inspect Boeing 737 MAX planes for possible loose bolt – National

Airlines urged to inspect Boeing 737 MAX planes for possible loose bolt - National
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Boeing is urging airlines to inspect their 737 MAX airplanes for a possible loose bolt in the rudder control system, the aircraft manufacturer and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said on Thursday.

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The FAA said it was closely monitoring Boeing 737 MAX targeted inspections and will consider additional action based on any further discovery of loose or missing hardware.

Boeing recommended 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 FAA said. Boeing discovered an additional undelivered aircraft with a nut not properly tightened, the agency said.

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“The issue identified on the particular airplane has been remedied,” Boeing said.

“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.”

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A spokesperson for Boeing confirmed to Global News that it had contacted Canadian airlines that use the 737 MAX about the issue as well.


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Transport Canada said it was aware of Boeing’s notification to airlines, which the agency said recommends inspections be completed by Jan. 10. Canada-based operators will be required to report their findings to Transport Canada and Boeing, a spokesperson said.


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“The aircraft can still fly while the inspections are being planned,” the spokesperson said in a statement, adding Transport Canada is in contact with the FAA.

WestJet said it received notice of the issue from Boeing on Wednesday and has begun inspecting its entire 737 MAX fleet, as well as the aircraft operated by WestJet-owned Sunwing Airlines.

A spokesperson told Global News it plans to have those inspections completed by the recommended Jan. 10 deadline, and that they aren’t expected to impact operations.

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Air Canada also said in a statement its operations won’t be affected by the inspections, which are currently underway.

Boeing said the inspection itself is “not particularly difficult” and is estimated to take about two hours per aircraft.

The planemaker has recommended that airlines inspect their MAXs within two weeks, but delivered 737 MAX planes can continue to fly safely, Boeing said. Production and delivery of the MAX will continue, and any undelivered aircraft will be inspected by the company before delivery, it said.

Boeing added the issue does not affect older-model 737 Next Generation planes.


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In the U.S., United Airlines and American Airlines told Reuters their inspections would not affect their own operations. Southwest Airlines did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The FAA said Boeing had issued a message urging operators of newer single-aisle airplanes to inspect specific tie rods that control rudder movement for possible loose hardware. The rudder controls the position of an aircraft’s nose while in flight.

Any issue involving a rudder that is not working properly would likely be identified in a pre-flight check, as flight crews routinely examine the rudder system before an aircraft pushes back from the gate, Boeing said.

“The FAA will remain in contact with Boeing and the airlines while the inspections are underway,” the agency said, asking airlines to answer if any loose hardware has been detected previously and provide details on how quickly these inspections can be completed.

The 737 MAX was grounded for 20 months worldwide after two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019 killed 346 people in Ethiopia and Indonesia. Transport Canada finally approved the aircraft for travel in early 2021.

Boeing is still awaiting certification of its smaller 737 MAX 7 and larger MAX 10.

— with files from Reuters

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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