FAA: Check engines on 737s that could shut down mid-flight

FAA orders emergency inspections on 2,000 Boeing 737s after four reports of engines shutting down mid-flight on jets which have been parked up for weeks amid coronavirus

  • The Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order for Boeing 737 Classic and Next Generation planes on Thursday
  • Four reports revealed that engines are shutting down mid-flight
  • One incident happened on July 15 with a Alaska Airlines plane flying from Seattle, Washington, to Austin, Texas
  • The details of the reports were not disclosed by the FAA
  • Airlines have been asked to inspect all 737 planes that have been parked for at least seven days or been flown less than 11 times since returning to service
  • The FAA said plane valves that have been parked for an extended period of time can sometimes get stuck in the open position

Safety regulators issued an emergency order directing airlines to inspect a critical engine part on popular Boeing 737 jets, which have been parked for weeks amid the coronavirus pandemic, after four reports of engines shutting down during flights. 

The Federal Aviation Administration said that its order affected about 2,000 twin-engine passenger jets in the United States.

The FAA’s Emergency Air Worthiness Directive said operators must inspect any 737 Classic and Next Generation planes that have been parked for at least seven days or been flown fewer than 11 times since being returned to service.

That’s because of reports that certain engine valves can become stuck in the open position.

A directive released by the Federal Aviation Administration ordered around 2,000 twin-engine Boeing 737 passenger planes  after reports of engines shutting down mid-flight

 Passenger jets have two or more engines, and multiple engine failures of the type that FAA warned about in its order are rare.

Corrosion of the valves on both engines could lead to a complete loss of power without the ability to restart the engines, forcing pilots to land somewhere other than an airport, the FAA said in the order, dated Thursday. 

‘This condition, if not addressed, could result in compressor stalls and dual-engine power loss without the ability to restart, which could result in a forced off-airport landing.’ the directive said. 

Chicago-based Boeing Co. said that with planes being stored or used less often during the coronavirus pandemic, ‘the valve can be more susceptible to corrosion.’  

The company said it is providing inspection and parts-replacement help to airplane owners.

Major airlines typically fly their planes several times a day. However, they parked hundreds of planes when the coronavirus pandemic triggered a collapse in air travel this spring and are bringing some of those planes back as passenger traffic has picked up slightly. 

The FAA did not provide details about the four cases of engine shutdowns.

American Airlines said that four of its planes needed inspections , but no issues were discovered after completing the reviews

Alaska Airlines said one occurred on a July 15 flight from Seattle to Austin, Texas, and the plane landed without incident. The plane’s engine was replaced once it landed in Austin. 

Alaska said six of its planes need inspections, which have already begun.

American, United and Southwest said none of their planes had valve-related engine shutdowns.

Southwest Airlines, which only operates Boeing 737s, has 100 of such planes in storage, including 34 Max 737 aircraft. Officials are still determining how many need to be checked. 

American said four of its planes needed inspections, which were completed and found no issues. 

Details about the four reported incidents were not disclosed, but one incident involved  an Alaska Airlines traveling from Seattle to Austin, Texas, on July 15

American Airlines has 304 Boeing 737 Next Generation in its collection, including 18 parked away in Roswell, New Mexico

United said it is inspecting 28 Boeing 737 planes that are out of stoarge and will undergo a review. Planes still in storage will be checked as they return to operation.  

Delta Air Lines said it would inspect 20 planes but did not say whether any of its planes suffered engine shutdowns.

The directive does not apply to the newer Boeing 737 Max, which has been grounded worldwide since March 2019 after two crashes that killed 346 people.  

On October 29, 2018, a Lion Air flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea just 13 minutes after taking off from Jakarta, Indonesia. 

The flight crew made a distress call shortly before losing control but the crash killed 189 people.

The aircraft was almost brand-new, having arrived at Lion Air just three months earlier.

The Lion Air flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea on October 29, 2018, 13 minutes after takeoff from Jakarta, Indonesia. The fatal crash killed 189 people on board (pictured, investigators examine parts of the plane recovered from the sea)

The Lion Air plane was almost brand-new, having arrived just three months earlier. Pictured, debris from the Lion Air crash is examined

Less than five months later, a second crash occurred on March 10, 2019, when the Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed, killing all 149 passengers and eight crew members on board.

The aircraft had departed from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport and was bound for Nairobi, Kenya. 

Just after takeoff, the pilot radioed a distress call and was given immediate clearance to turn around and land.

But the plane crashed 40 miles from the airport, just six minutes after leaving the runway. The aircraft involved was only four months old.

The grounding of the 737 Max triggered lawsuits and investigations by Congress and the Department of Justice. 

Questions were also raised about the FAA and Boeing’s safety approval process.

Investigators blamed faults in the flight control system, which the 103-year-old company has been overhauling for months to meet new safety demands.

Boeing’s 737 MAX won’t fly again until 2021 after the fleet was grounded when 346 people died in two separate crashes because of regulatory holdups and final FAA approvals 

The grounded 737 MAX, blamed for two crashes that killed 346 people, will probably not return into commercial service until next year,  government and industry officials said.

While a public comment period on software and hardware changes won’t be closed until November, pilot training, maintenance checks and final FAA approvals are still not expected to be finished until well into December, officials told the Wall Street Journal.

It remains possible that the aircraft type could be brought back into service sooner, the same officials told the Journal. However, a sooner return isn’t what observers keeping a close eye on the process expect.  

At least one airline won’t be returning the aircraft into service any earlier than mid-December according to its schedule, a person with knowledge of the timing told the Journal. 

The grounded 737 MAX, blamed for two crashes that killed 346 people, will probably not return into commercial service until next year, say government and industry officials. Workers at Boeing’s Renton, Washington, plant are pictured working on a MAX jet

The aircraft has been grounded impacting airlines across the world after the deadly crashes of MAX planes in Indonesia in 2018 and in Ethiopia the following year. Pictured are grounded MAX aircraft at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, last month

Problems with ground simulator training for a select group of international pilots also may present further delays. 

Investigators probing the cause of the deadly crashes from almost two years ago have focused on a flight-control system, new to the Max, that pushed the nose of both planes down based on faulty readings from sensors. 

Boeing has been working to fix the system and make other changes since shortly after the first crash in Indonesia in October 2018. The aircraft type was grounded after a second MAX plane crashed after take off from Ethiopia in May 2019.

Chicago-based Boeing was struggling before the coronavirus pandemic hit because of the grounding of the MAX – once its best-selling plane. 

The coronavirus compounded the company’s problems by causing a deep slump in air travel that has left airlines around the world with too many planes, not a need for more. 

Boeing was forced to ground the MAX after the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia happened less than six months apart.

The first disaster happened October 29, 2018, when a MAX flying as Lion Air flight JT 610 fell into the Java Sea 15 minutes after taking off from Jakarta.

All 189 aboard the plane died, including 180 Indonesians, one Italian and one Indian.

The second crash occurred on March 10, 2019, when Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302, which also was a MAX jet, took off from Bole International Airport in the Ethiopian capital and crashed.

Boeing was forced to ground the MAX after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia happened less than six months apart. Pictured are remains from the first from October 29, 2018, when a MAX flying as Lion Air flight JT 610 fell into the Java Sea 15 minutes after taking off from Jakarta

The second crash occurred on March 10, 2019, when Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302, which also was a MAX jet, took off from Bole International Airport in the Ethiopian capital and crashed. Pictured are remains at the crash scene of the doomed flight

US carriers American, United and Southwest had to cancel flights for the holidays, including over Christmas and into the new year, after the plane was grounded around the world.  

Boeing reported July 14 that customers canceled orders for 60 of the grounded 737 MAX jets in June. The aircraft maker removed another 123 planes from its backlog over doubts that the deals will be completed.

The slump in aircraft sales extends across the Atlantic. European rival Airbus reported no new orders in June.

American Airlines is demanding that Boeing help it find financing for 17 MAX jets that the airline expected to receive at least a year ago. Last month, Norwegian Air Shuttle announced that it plans to cancel its remaining order for 92 of the planes, saying that it had not settled with Boeing over compensation for the grounding of its current MAX jets.

American Airlines is demanding that Boeing help it find financing for 17 MAX jets that the airline expected to receive at least a year ago. Several of the carrier’s 737 MAX jets are pictured grounded at Tulsa International Airport

Boeing’s lone sale last month was a cargo jet ordered by FedEx. That compared with nine orders a year ago and 158 in June 2018.

So far this year, Boeing has recorded 59 new orders. That figure is dwarfed, however, by 382 cancellations – most of them abandoned orders for the MAX – and the downgrading of 323 other orders because of uncertainty about the deals going through. 

The company’s backlog of unfilled orders for passenger planes fell to 4,552, including 3,595 for 737s, a figure which includes both the MAX and an older version of the plane called the NG.

Boeing Co. delivered 10 planes in June, compared with 37 a year earlier.

Chief Financial Officer Greg Smith said Boeing´s defense and other businesses “will continue to provide some stability as we navigate through the pandemic and rebuild stronger on the other side.”

Airbus was shut out for new orders, but the European plane maker said it delivered 36 passenger jets in June, including 31 of its A320neo jets, which compete with the MAX. Airbus said it ended June with a backlog of 7,584 planes.

Source: Read Full Article