FAA Requires Boeing 737 MAX Inspections For Key Automated Flight System

A Boeing 737 MAX aircraft lands after a test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, United States, June 29, 2020. REUTERS / Karen Ducey

WASHINGTON, June 16 (Reuters) – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Wednesday issued a directive to Boeing Co (BN) requiring operators of 737 MAX aircraft to perform additional inspections of the automated flight control system from the plane.

The directive makes mandatory the instructions published by Boeing in December which recommend that planes over 6,000 flight hours be subject to specific electronic controls. MCAS, an automated flight control system on the 737 MAX, was linked to two fatal 737 MAX crashes that led to the aircraft being immobilized for 20 months which was lifted in November.

The three repetitive inspections are to be performed during existing maintenance programs, the FAA said.

The FAA also issued an advisory on Wednesday entitled Notification of Continuing Airworthiness to the International Community (CANIC) “to underscore the importance of these inspections to other international regulators and operators outside of the United States.” The directive impacts approximately 72 U.S. registered aircraft and 389 planes worldwide, the FAA said.

Boeing did not immediately comment.

The FAA said the directive is necessary because “potential latent failure of a flight control system function” if combined with “unusual flight maneuvers or other flight control system failure” could result in reduced controllability of the aircraft.

The FAA said all operators of U.S.-registered 737 MAX aircraft have already included these inspections in their maintenance programs.

The 737 MAX was grounded in March 2019 around the world after two fatal crashes in five months left 346 people dead. The grounding was not lifted until November 2020 by the FAA after Boeing made major safety upgrades and improved pilot training, as well as the addition of new safeguards to MCAS.

Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler

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