It’s far from clear skies ahead for Boeing’s troubled 737 planes.
After a joint investigation by Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, over 300 Boeing 737 jets, including the controversial MAX models, have been identified as having faulty parts in their wings, according to statements from both Boeing and the FAA.
“Boeing is working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and has contacted 737 operators advising them to inspect the slat track assemblies on certain airplanes,” Boeing’s statement read. “One batch of slat tracks with specific lot numbers produced by a supplier was found to have a potential nonconformance. If operators find the parts in question, they are to replace them with new ones before returning the airplane to service.”
Slats are pieces on the front of the wing and move along a track to create lift. They are most pivotal during take-off and landing.
The company said it believes 20 737 MAX and 21 737 NG planes may have defective slat tracks.
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This news comes three months after a 737 MAX 8 plane operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed in Kenya, killing all 157 passengers and crew on board. That incident was preceded by another crash on a Lion Air flight in November that had a similar deadly result.
Those crashes are believed to be linked to a faulty software update that Boeing has been working to resolve and were not related to the newly discovered wing issue.
After the crash in March, President Trump followed numerous other countries and organizations including China, the U.K. and the E.U. in issuing an emergency order for all 737 MAX aircrafts in the U.S. to be grounded.
Numerous airlines, including U.S. carriers like American and Southwest, used the 737 MAX 8 for their flights. Those planes remain grounded.
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With regard to the new wing slat issue, the FAA said in a statement that while “the affected parts may be susceptible to premature failure or cracks resulting from the improper manufacturing process,” the failure of a slat track “would not result in the loss of the aircraft.” However, “a risk remains that a failed part could lead to aircraft damage in flight.”
The statement also said that the FAA would be issuing an Airworthiness Directive to identify and remove the parts from service. Operators of affected aircrafts are required to perform this action within 10 days.
“We are committed to supporting our customers in every way possible as they identify and replace these potentially non-conforming tracks,” said Kevin McAllister, President & CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.