Tuesday June 25, 2019
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FAA Says More than 300 Boeing 737 Jets Could Have Parts Susceptible to Premature Failure

The FAA said up to 148 leading edge slat tracks manufactured by a Boeing sub-tier supplier are affected

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FAA, Boeing 737 Jets, Premature Failure
FILE - An American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane sits at a boarding gate at LaGuardia Airport, March 13, 2019, in New York. VOA

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Sunday disclosed a new problem involving Boeing Co’s grounded 737 MAX, saying that more than 300 of that troubled plane and an older model 737 may contain improperly manufactured parts and that the agency will require these parts to be quickly replaced.

The FAA said up to 148 leading edge slat tracks manufactured by a Boeing sub-tier supplier are affected and cover 179 MAX and 133 NG aircraft worldwide. Slats are movable panels that extend along the front of the wing during takeoffs and landings to provide additional lift. The tracks guide the slats and are built into the wing.

In a statement issued after the FAA announcement, Boeing said it has not been informed of any in-service issues related to this batch of slat tracks. Boeing, the world’s largest plane maker, said it has identified 20 737 MAX airplanes most likely to have the faulty parts and that airlines will check an additional 159 MAXs for these parts.

Boeing said it has identified 21 737 NGs most likely to have the suspect parts and is advising airlines to check an additional 112 NGs. The NG is the third-generation 737 that the company began building in 1997.

FAA, Boeing 737 Jets, Premature Failure
FILE – A Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft is parked at a Boeing production facility in Renton, Washington, March 11, 2019. VOA

The 737 MAX, Chicago-based Boeing’s bestselling jet, was grounded globally in March following a fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash after a similar Lion Air disaster in Indonesia in October.

The two crashes together killed 346 people.

Boeing has yet to submit a software upgrade to the FAA as it works to get approval to end the grounding of the 737 MAX.

The FAA said a complete failure of a leading edge slat track would not result in the loss of the aircraft, but a failed part could cause aircraft damage in flight.

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The FAA said it will issue an Airworthiness Directive to require Boeing’s service actions to identify and remove the parts from service, and operators will be required to perform this action within 10 days, but can continue to fly the planes during the 10-day period before the parts are removed.

Boeing said one batch of slat tracks with specific lot numbers produced by a supplier was found to have a “potential nonconformance” and said airlines “are to replace them with new ones before returning the airplane to service.”

The company said it is “now staging replacement parts at customer bases to help minimize aircraft downtime while the work is completed.” Boeing said once new parts are in hand, replacement work should take one to two days.

A separate service bulletin will go to 737 MAX operators to do inspections before the MAX fleet returns to service.

FAA, Boeing 737 Jets, Premature Failure
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Sunday disclosed a new problem involving Boeing Co’s grounded 737 MAX. Pixabay

The FAA said Boeing has identified groups of both 737 NG and 737 MAX airplane serial numbers on which these suspect parts may have been installed, including 32 NG and 33 MAX in the United States. The affected parts “may be susceptible to premature failure or cracks resulting from the improper manufacturing process,” the FAA said.

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The issue was discovered following an investigation conducted by Boeing and the FAA Certificate Management Office, the agency said. (VOA)

Next Story

FAA Propose New Rules To Help Supersonic Flight

U.S. startups Aerion, Boom Supersonic and Spike Aerospace are working to reintroduce supersonic passenger travel

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FAA, Rules, Supersonic
FILE - Daniel Elwell, acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, testifies during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 15, 2019. VOA

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Monday it is moving to rewrite testing rules to allow for the eventual return of civil supersonic air travel.

At an event in Paris on Monday, Acting FAA Administrator Dan Elwell said the agency is working to “enable the return of civil supersonic travel, while ensuring the environmental impacts are understood and properly addressed.”

Later this week, the FAA will issue a proposed rule for “special flight authorization for supersonic aircraft,” Elwell said. This is the first step toward revising the FAA’s 45-year-old rules governing supersonic transport.

U.S. startups Aerion, Boom Supersonic and Spike Aerospace are working to reintroduce supersonic passenger travel for the first time since the Anglo-French Concorde retired in 2003.

FAA, Rules, Supersonic
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Monday it is moving to rewrite testing rules to allow for the eventual return of civil supersonic air travel. Pixabay

The rule “modifies and clarifies existing regulatory procedures for a more efficient way to obtain FAA approval to test supersonic aircraft.”

The rule “will provide a streamlined, clear line of sight on how to gain approval to conduct flight testing. This is a necessary, key step for further research and development in an emerging segment — and ultimately bring their aircraft to market,” Elwell added in remarks provided by the FAA.

According to a draft of the FAA proposal reviewed by Reuters, the agency said the proposed updates “are intended to support the growth of the civil supersonic industry” and will “provide increased clarity and information to applications as to the requirements for special flight authorizations to test supersonic aircraft.”

In February, Boeing said it had made a significant investment in supersonic business jet developer Aerion, as the world’s biggest planemaker looks to tap into rising demand for high-end aircraft that can reduce travel time.

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Boeing will provide engineering, manufacturing and flight testing services for Aerion’s $120 million supersonic business jet, which is slated for its first flight in 2023.

Congress last year approved legislation directing the FAA to issue proposed rules setting noise standards for landing and takeoff, and noise test requirements for civil supersonic aircraft by March 2020, and modernizing the application process by December 2019.

Next generation supersonic jets, while quieter and more fuel efficient than the Concorde, have difficulty meeting existing noise levels and carbon emissions standards for conventional planes due to engine constraints and higher fuel burn. (VOA)