Boeing is advising airlines to inspect 737 Max jets for a potentially loose bolt in the type’s rudder control system.
The Federal Aviation Administration said on 28 December that Boeing has issued a multi-operator message “urging operators of newer single-aisle airplanes to inspect specific tie rods that control rudder movement for possible loose hardware”.
Boeing is recommending the inspections after an international operator discovered a bolt with a missing nut during routine maintenance of the rudder-control linkage. The company subsequently found an undelivered 737 with an improperly tightened nut.
The FAA adds that it is “closely monitoring” the targeted inspections, which are expected to take two hours, and will consider further actions “based on any discovery of loose or missing hardware”. The agency is asking airlines to disclose whether loose hardware has been previously discovered and to provide an estimate of how quickly inspections can be completed.
The needed inspections are the latest setback for Boeing’s 737 programme, which has long suffered from quality issues – mostly recently a delivery decline owing to a bulkhead-related quality problem.
However, the Arlington-headquartered airframer has recently ramped up its 737 Max deliveries and appears on track to hit its target of 375-400 narrowbody deliveries in 2023.
It also secured a major deal with Lufthansa Group, which placed a firm order for 40 737 Max 8s and took options on 60 more.