Boeing has received approval from the U.S Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for proposed electrical fixes to the 737 MAX. Electrical grounding issues forced over 100 MAX planes to be removed from service over the past month. Affected airlines will now be able to return their MAX jets to the skies.
FAA grants approval for electrical fixes
The FAA has approved Boeing’s proposed modifications for the 737 MAX to fix the electrical grounding issues discovered last month. On Wednesday, Boeing sent out two service bulletins to MAX operators affected by electrical issues. The bulletins provide instructions on how to repair the problem, which will take airlines less than 24 hours per plane.
Boeing told Reuters,
“After gaining final approvals from the FAA, we have issued service bulletins for the affected fleet. We are also completing the work as we prepare to resume deliveries.”
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told U.S. lawmakers that the issue would require a “pretty straightforward fix.” Repair work is expected to take between nine and 24 hours per jet, at a total cost of around $155,000 for all affected planes in the U.S.
Dickson confirmed his full confidence in the safety of the MAX to a U.S House panel yesterday, saying,
“It is performing as well or better overall than any other airplane out there in the aviation system right now.”
On May 4th, the FAA requested proof from Boeing that various MAX subsystems would not be affected by the electrical grounding issues. Despite many airlines expecting a swift solution to the problem, the FAA’s additional requests delayed the process to ensure other systems on the MAX were not compromised.
What exactly were the electrical issues?
The electrical problems are believed to have arisen after Boeing altered its manufacturing process to accelerate production of the MAX. Boeing discovered the issue in early April, issuing a safety recommendation to 16 airlines operating the MAX.
The problem was first traced to a backup power control unit in the cockpit, before concerns the issue could affect other areas of the plane, including the pilot instrument panel. In an airworthiness directive issued by the FAA, the regulator claimed the problem could have resulted in a loss of critical functions.
The FAA said the issue,
“… could affect the operation of certain systems, including engine ice protection, and result in loss of critical functions and/or multiple simultaneous flight deck effects, which may prevent continued safe flight and landing.”
Boeing gives the all-clear for affected planes
Boeing has also announced that airlines affected by the electrical issue are preparing to return the MAX to the skies. According to the FAA, 109 MAX-8 and MAX-9 planes were affected, with 71 of those registered in the U.S. Southwest Airlines grounded 30 of its MAX planes in April, with American Airlines and United Airlines grounding 17 and 16 jets respectively.
The announcement comes as a relief for U.S airlines, with a busy schedule and market recovery on the cards over the summer. Other affected airlines worldwide include Cayman Airways, Copa Airlines, GOL Linhas Aereas, Iceland Air, Minsheng Leasing, Neos Air, Shandong Airlines, SilkAir, SpiceJet, Sunwing Airlines, TUI, Turkish Airlines, Valla Jets Limited, WestJet Airlines and Xiamen Airlines.