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FAA Orders Electrical Repairs to 737 MAX

April 29, 2021
The Federal Aviation Administration said the problem affecting 109 aircraft worldwide could result in the loss of critical functions and/or multiple flight-deck errors affecting safe flight and landing.

The Federal Aviation Administration has ordered Boeing Co. to fix an electrical problem affecting a large number of 737 MAX aircraft, an issue that the OEM reported earlier this month. The FAA warned the issue "could affect the operation of certain systems, including engine ice protection, and result in loss of critical functions and/or multiple simultaneous flight deck effects, which may prevent continued safe flight and landing."

Boeing stated it supports "the FAA’s directive to address electrical issues identified in certain locations in the flight deck of select 737 MAX airplanes. We have been working closely with the FAA and our customers to finalize two service bulletins that will ensure a sufficient ground path in those areas."

According to Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun, the specific repairs that airlines should apply to the affected jets have not been finalized, but that the process would likely mean only a few days offline for each aircraft.

Boeing halted new deliveries of the twin-engine narrow-body 737 MAX series earlier in April.

When Boeing released the first maintenance recommendation it was to 16 airlines and concerned an unreported number of 737 MAX jets.

According to FAA, the issue affects 109 aircraft worldwide and 71 in service for U.S. airlines. Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and United Airlines – three of the largest 737 MAX operators – each indicated earlier this month that they had removed affected 737 MAX jets from service.

Boeing said its maintenance recommendation was made “to allow for verification that a sufficient ground path exists for a component of the electrical power system.” A “ground path” refers to an aircraft’s electrical circuits and their reliability or safety within the larger aircraft operation and flight-control systems.

Boeing also described the current problem as “a production issue” that is unrelated to the 737 MAX flight-control system, the primary cause of the two crashes that led to the 737 MAX program grounding from March 2019 to December 2020. However, a wiring defect was among the issues identified for correction by Boeing and approved by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration during the 19-month investigation that followed two crashes of the Boeing 737 MAX, from March 2019 to December 2020. 

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