FAA chief Steve Dickson flies a Boeing 737 MAX from Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington on September 30, 2020.
Mike Siegel | Getty Images
The Federal Aviation Administration announced Thursday that it is investigating the origins of a manufacturing problem that led to the creation of dozens of Boeing 737 Max aircraft earlier this month.
The agency had ordered corrections the day before to fix electrical problems on 109,737 Max aircraft, 71 of them in the United States. The FAA stated that there is insufficient electrical grounding in some areas of the cockpit of certain jets. The issue, which emerged after a design change in early 2019, could ultimately affect systems like engine ice protection if not addressed, the FAA said in their order.
The problem is unrelated to the system, which was implicated in two fatal crashes that grounded Boeing’s best-selling jet for nearly two years. But the foundation comes just as the company tries to repair its reputation after the crashes.
The manufacturer said Wednesday it had suspended shipments of new Max aircraft to address the issue, and CEO Dave Calhoun warned investors that April shipments would be “easy”.
The FAA announced Thursday that it is also reviewing Boeing’s process for minor design changes across its product line, “with the aim of identifying areas where the company can improve its processes.” The audit and investigation were previously reported by the Wall Street Journal.
“These initiatives are part of our commitment to continuously evaluate and improve our oversight of all aspects of aviation safety. It recognizes that detecting errors early improves what is already the safest mode of transport in the world,” said an FAA statement.
Boeing said it is “working closely with the FAA and our customers to resolve the ground path issue in the affected 737s. We look forward to continuing to work with and guidance from the FAA as we continue to assure the safety and quality of our processes.” improve.”
The latest Max grounding is not affecting the entire global fleet, but was ordered as some airlines are keen to get more planes in the air to accommodate a rebound in travel demand.
The air carriers are waiting for a final service bulletin to resolve the issue and have tools and other supplies installed at the time of release, two industry sources said.