Despite sign offs from the governing bodies of aviation safety in the USA, Europe and UK, the return to service of the Boeing 737-MAX hasn’t been brilliant, or smooth.
Many flights have been cancelled, or planes swapped out due to a series of ongoing technical faults which weren’t picked up before the widely followed return to the skies of the latest iteration of the Boeing 737. The 737 is the most widely flown commercial aircraft in the world.
In April, three key issues forced yet another round of grounding of select 737-MAX jets, resulting in nearly a quarter of the currently serving 737-MAX fleets, being mothballed once again, according to Reuters.
Now, a fresh new directive from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) orders further inspection and replacement of electrical grounding equipment on up to 300 planes, delaying the planned return of many jets – again.
737-MAX Ongoing Issues
Boeing’s high profile return of the 737-MAX hit another road block this week, with news that the FAA wishes to push further inspections and or procedures on up to 300 737-MAX jets. Two new key areas of interest are leading the cautious approach.
Electrical grounding of certain components and systems in the flight deck will require inspection, and or replacement of certain parts, while other issues stem from actual storage of the aircraft, which caused more wear and tear than expected.
At least 60 jets will be taken out of service for the fixes to be made, but Reuters estimates up to 300 could be impacted. American and United have been the first to return these 737-MAX jets to service, and Southwest recently placed a large order for more aircraft.
A full list of airlines flying the Boeing 737-MAX globally can be found here.
Two years on the ground in dry storage appears to have resulted in unexpected corrosion of certain LEAP engine parts used for the 737-MAX, and the FAA is keen to see more data and inspection from these jet engines before resuming commercial service as usual.
FAA Takes Firm Stance
The FAA is showing some teeth toward Boeing, after the cushy relationship between manufacturer and the aviation safety body was called into question. The FAA is taking an extremely risk averse stance with these components, in ways many believe never would have been as thoroughly scrutinized in the past.
Boeing will continue to submit new data to the FAA in regards to electrical grounding issues in the flight deck and the pressure sub-systems (PSS) potentially impacted by corrosion. Until fixes are in place and new sign offs exist, airlines in the US flying the 737-MAX will see quite a number of jets grounded, and delays for future deliveries as Boeing modifies its processes.
Despite logical belief that the 737-MAX will be one of the safest planes ever to fly, once it passes another round of technical safety muster, many travelers have lost faith in the stalwart of the skies.
Avoiding the 737-MAX will become more difficult as more deliveries make their way to airline customers, but there are still plenty of ways to give it a pass, if you so choose.