The plot thickens with the Boeing 737 MAX crisis after foreign objects from the manufacturing stage were found inside the fuel tanks of ground Boeing 737 MAXs. This has prompted Boeing to head back and inspect all 400 or so grounded aircraft.
What are the details?
This new situation is being reported from a source at Leeham News. According to its latest report, Boeing has informed the FAA that they have consistently found foreign object debris (FOD) inside the fuel tanks of their aircraft. This is unrelated to the grounding issue.
FODs are commonly described as material offcuts, tools or rags. Items that you might expect to find under your floorboards if you were to peel them back. Boeing, having discovered these items, has informed the FAA and said that they will need to inspect each of their grounded 400 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.
The inspection process will take up to three days for each aircraft, as the fuel tanks need to be drained and the fuel vapors evaporate before the tanks can be uncorked and cleaned. This will be part of the main inspection process to get the aircraft flying again and will take place during the recertification process.
Boeing at this time has not outlined what the rest of the inspection process will entail, but it is believed that the fuel tank cleaning will not delay any redeployment of aircraft.
However, this news might infer some quality issues with the 737 MAX production line.
What could be the problem?
Debris is not commonly found in aircraft fuel tanks and may show that there is a production line problem somewhere during the construction of the Boeing 737 MAX.
Speaking to his 737 MAX team members, Mark Jenks, the Vice President and General Manager of the 737 Program, outlined how they were going to fix the issue:
“During these challenging times, our customers and the flying public are counting on us to do our best work each and every day. That’s why we’re taking action after a range of Foreign Object Debris (FOD) was recently found in the fuel tanks of several 737 MAX airplanes in storage.”
“FOD is absolutely unacceptable. One escape is one too many. With your help and focus, we will eliminate FOD from our production system.”
Some of the new steps will include:
- Updating instructions and checklists for team members who are working on the fuel tanks.
- “Additional verifications including inspections audits and checks into our tank closure process to ensure there is zero FOD within the fuel tanks.”
- “New signage added in these work areas to help remind teammates of the appropriate steps to take.”
Whether or not these new steps will fix the problem moving forward with the production of the aircraft remains to be seen. But with the aircraft still grounded it is still a minor problem compared to the bigger elephant in the room.
What do you think of this news? Do you think that there is a problem with the fuel tank assembly process? Let us know in the comments