Boeing 737 MAX Airplane Model Under Inspection For ‘Possible Loose Bolt’

(Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP via Getty Images)

John Oyewale Contributor
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All Boeing 737 MAX airplanes were scheduled to undergo targeted inspections for a possible loose bolt in the rudder control system, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Thursday.

“Under consultation with the FAA, Boeing has issued a Multi-Operator Message (MOM), urging operators of newer single-aisle airplanes to inspect specific tie rods that control rudder movement for possible loose hardware,” the FAA said in a statement.

A non-US operator performing standard maintenance on a mechanism in the rudder-control linkage found a bolt with a missing nut, and another undelivered aircraft had a nut that was improperly tightened, prompting Boeing to recommend the inspections, the FAA statement read.

Each inspection was projected to last two hours, with Boeing and the airlines operating the airplanes required to work through their approved Safety Management Systems to determine whether there was any previous report of any loose hardware and report findings to the FAA, according to the agency.

“The FAA will consider additional action based on any further discovery of loose or missing hardware,” the FAA stated.

The issue has not resulted in any in-flight disturbance so far as crews routinely ensure the rudder worked properly before pushback and takeoff, Boeing told the The Associated Press (AP).

The FAA announcement of the inspections came ten days after Boeing announced Dec. 19 that Germany’s national carrier Lufthansa would order up to 100 737 MAX jets, the carrier’s first order of 737 airplanes from Boeing since 1995. (RELATED: Ethiopian Boeing Flight ‘Smoked And Shuddered’ Minutes Before Crash)

United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, American Airlines, and Alaska Airlines all have the 737 MAX airplanes in their fleet and said the inspections would not impact their operations, The AP reported.

Rudder malfunctions caused a United Airline Boeing 737 plane crash in Colorado in 1991 and a USAir Boeing 737 crash in Pennsylvania in 1994, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The FAA prohibited all U.S.-certified airlines from operating the 737 MAX airplanes on Mar. 13, 2019 after a total of 346 people perished in two deadly 737 MAX-8 crashes on Oct. 29, 2018 and March 10, 2019. The FAA ordered the airplanes back into service on Nov. 18, 2020, after Boeing corrected the flight stabilizing software issues that caused the crashes.