US airlines have been ordered to inspect more than 1,000 of Boeing’s 737 narrow-body workhorses for potentially faulty parts that could result in pilots losing control of the aircraft.
The US Federal Aviation Administration on Monday issued an airworthiness directive that requires airlines to carry out inspections of certain components on the 737’s tail plane.
The regulator acted because of concerns that pins used to attach the aircraft’s horizontal stabiliser – also known as the tail plane – could break because these components did not have an adequate anticorrosive coating.
The horizontal stabiliser provides aircraft with directional stability and pitch.
“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 order affects several versions of the 737, including the more recent 737-800 and 737-900 models, and the regulator estimated that the cost of inspecting the aircraft and replacing defective pins could be $10m.
Boeing said the FAA’s airworthiness directive had not been prompted by a problem with a 737 in commercial service but rather “a finding of a surface finish degradation on recently-installed attachment pins”.
It added airlines did not need to take immediate action to address the issue because the directive required inspections of the 737 after 56,000 flights.
Regulators in other parts of the world are likely to replicate the FAA’s order in their jurisdictions.
Aviation regulators regularly issue airworthiness directives to address defects on aircraft, but some are more serious than others.
The European Aviation Safety Agency issued directives last year that required airlines to inspect Airbus’ A380 superjumbos for cracks on components inside the aircraft’s wings.
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