FAA directive to affect 461 Boeing 737 MAXs

A directive issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on June 16, 2021, warrants all Boeing 737 MAX operators to perform additional electronic inspections on the aircraft’s flight control system.

The directive warrants mandatory inspections for all Boeing 737 MAX models with over 6,000 flight hours, in line with instructions released by Boeing in December 2020. 

The FAA stated that in order “to ensure the continued functioning of certain systems throughout the life of the airplane,” three unvaried inspections must be performed during existing maintenance routines.

461 Boeing 737 MAXs fall into the category of models that will be directly affected. This includes 72 aircraft operating in the United States and 389 aircraft worldwide.

The FAA confirmed that all US-based 737 MAX operators already included the mandatory inspections within their maintenance programs. No information from global operators has yet been released.

The Boeing 737 MAX was grounded in March 2019 following two fatal crashes that claimed the lives of 346 passengers on Lion Air Flight 610 in October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in March 2019. 

The MAX was ungrounded on November 18, 2020, following authorization from the FAA. However, further electric issues were discovered in April 2021 which potentially affected 16 MAX operators at the time. According to FAA estimates, approximately 109 aircraft were affected by the problem, 71 of which were registered in the United States.  

The FAA sees the issued directive as a necessary precaution to access and prevent reduced aircraft controllability which may result from a combination of “latent failure of flight control system function”, irregular inflight maneuvers, and other varied flight control system failures.

Alongside the directive, the FAA also issued a notice directed to international regulators and operators on June 16, 2021as reported by Reuters. The notice, titled Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community (CANIC), seeks to cast attention and highlight the importance of the inspections to international regulators and non-US 737 MAX operators.

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