More Bad News For Boeing – Wing Manufacture Flaw Identified On 737

On Sunday, June 2nd, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reportedly over 300 of Boeing’s 737 planes, including many 737 MAX aircraft, may have faulty parts on their wings. According to CNBC, the agency reports that as many as 148 parts manufactured by a Boeing supplier could be “susceptible to premature failure or cracks”.

The issue was discovered while Boeing representatives were meeting with suppliers. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Slat tracks

The issue has to do with the aircraft’s “slat tracks”. Located on the front wing, slats are pieces that move along a track to create lift. These parts play a key role during take-off and landing. Boeing says it believes 20 737 MAX and 21 737 NG planes may have defective slat tracks. However, the issue may affect up to 133 NG (Next-Generation) and 179 MAX aircraft worldwide and will also require inspection.

The company found the problem last Friday, while Boeing representatives were meeting with the parts supplier in question. Employees of Boeing made the discovery that some of the parts were not heat treated. This led them to suspect that there may be a safety issue as a result.

In a statement, the FAA said the following:

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“[while] the complete failure of a leading edge slat track would not result in the loss of the aircraft, a risk remains that a failed part could lead to aircraft damage in flight.”

CNN is reporting that the tracks “may not meet manufacturing standards” and may possibly require replacement. Boeing and the FAA are saying that if the parts are found to be defective, that airlines should replace them prior to the planes returning to service.

Airworthiness directive issued

While Boeing has reportedly reached out to airlines via a service bulletin, the FAA will issue an airworthiness directive. Both notices, advise airlines that they must inspect their slat track assemblies on MAX and NG aircraft. The 737NG series include the 737-600, -700, -800 and -900 planes. The airworthiness directive requires airlines to complete inspection and repair within 10 days.
Discovery of the issue came about on Friday, while Boeing was meeting with the parts supplier. Employees of Boeing noticed that some of the parts were not heat treated – which led them to suspect the possibility of a safety issue.
The issue affects both 737 MAX and NG model aircraft. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Will not delay MAX software update

An FAA spokesman reports that this issue should not delay the planned submission of Boeing’s software update and training revisions for its 737 MAX. However, it is still not clear when the updates and revisions will go to the FAA.

According to the CBC, Boeing said it had completed its software upgrade last Month, but was still working to address information requests coming from the FAA. This must happen before a certification test flight can take place.

Several days to complete

Boeing and the FAA are saying that no known incidents related to the tracks on operating flights have arisen and that the fix should take a several days to complete.

CNN is reporting that the CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes, Kevin McAllister said the following:

“We are committed to supporting our customers in every way possible as they identify and replace these potentially non-conforming tracks,”

As many as 179 MAX aircraft may have the flaw. Photo: Alan Wilson

Boeing came under fire recently for poor production. In April a story broke regarding 787s coming out of their South Carolina facility.

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“[while] the complete failure of a leading edge slat track would not result in the loss of the aircraft…” So, asymmetric lift on landing or, particularly, take-off, would be nothing to worry about? I suggest someone at the FAA goes back to the flight manual – it could easily lead to the loss of an aircraft at a time when pilot workload is high and the crew may not be able to identify the problem quickly enough! Thankfully it is much easier to remedy – but I personally don’t think it says much for Boeing’s quality control. The whole 737MAX… Read more »