The FAA has identified more safety issues on Boeing’s 737 Max and 787 Dreamliner

The FAA has identified more safety issues on Boeing’s 737 Max and 787 Dreamliner - Business and Finance - News

Title: Ongoing Safety Concerns with Boeing’s 737 Max and 787 Dreamliner: Engine Anti-Ice Systems

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has flagged two new safety issues related to engine anti-ice systems on Boeing’s 737 Max and 787 Dreamliner aircraft models, adding to the mounting challenges faced by the embattled aircraft manufacturer.

The FAA identified these issues in a mid-February filing; however, they received heightened attention when reported by the Seattle Times. Despite the potential risks, both aircraft models are still authorized to fly as the FAA continues to follow its standard process for issuing airworthiness directives (ADs), signaling that the regulatory body and Boeing do not deem these issues critical enough to warrant an immediate grounding of the planes.

With the ongoing safety concerns, it is crucial to understand that aircraft de-icing equipment remains essential even during summer months. The high altitudes at which commercial jets fly and the moisture present in clouds necessitate the use of de-icing systems throughout the year to ensure safe takeoff and landing.

Dennis Tajer, an American Airlines pilot and spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association, emphasized the importance of addressing these issues: “Airworthiness directives aren’t issued unless you have an unsafe condition that needs to be addressed. It’s ominous. It may be manageable on a temporary basis. But it’s not a solution.”

Regarding the 737 Max, the FAA reported that an electrical issue could potentially cause both engines to stop functioning due to damage caused by icing conditions. A fix involves replacing wiring in a panel above the pilots’ heads. This issue was discovered during a Boeing engineering analysis three years ago and has never been an observed concern in previous generations of 737 aircraft.

The discovery lines up with the company’s decision to ground some Max planes in 2021 due to a different electrical problem. Boeing has stated that they disclosed this issue to airlines and the FAA at the time, providing a fix for it.

A week after publishing the 737 Max notice, the FAA reported another anti-icing issue with the 787 Dreamliner. A damaged seal could potentially lead to heat damage in the engine inlet and pose a significant risk to the plane’s structure.

In 2018, an incident involving an earlier version of a 737 jet resulted in a broken engine cowling, which shattered a window on a Southwest Airlines flight and caused the death of Jennifer Riordan due to blunt impact trauma. Boeing is currently redesigning the part on the 787 Dreamliner engine to prevent further occurrences, and the issue was discovered on fewer than two dozen of over 1,000 Dreamliners in service.

The FAA has described neither issue as a production quality problem, which is the current focus following the January in-flight blowout incident. The FAA orders have not yet taken effect but will apply to approximately 315 planes, including both Maxes and Dreamliners.

Boeing has faced criticism from lawmakers following the January 737 Max mid-flight blowout, with allegations that the company had asked the FAA to certify new models despite a flaw in the anti-ice system. Boeing ultimately withdrew this request, causing delays for their plans to deliver these new planes to airline customers. However, they continue to build existing models of the jet with the same engine de-icing flaw that is delaying certification for the next Max versions.

In addition to these challenges, Boeing faces investigations from various authorities following the door plug incident on the Alaska Air flight, with missing bolts discovered during production. The NTSB and FAA are investigating the causes of this incident, while the Justice Department is examining whether it constitutes a violation of their 2021 deferred prosecution agreement regarding alleged fraud involving the original certification of the 737 Max.

The NTSB has yet to determine blame or fault for this door plug incident, with their investigation potentially taking a year or more to complete. Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun acknowledged the company’s responsibility during an investors’ call in January: “We caused the problem, and we understand that.”