Boeing Inspects 737 Max for Fuel-Tank Debris in New Setback
19 февраля 2020 г., 03:31 GMT+4 Updated on 19 февраля 2020 г., 05:04 GMT+4
- Checks aren’t expected to delay Max’s commercial comeback
- New leader named to oversee Max’s return to service campaign
Forensic investigators comb the ground near a pile of airplane debris at the crash site of Ethiopian airways Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in 2019.
Photographer: Tony Karumbna/AFP via Getty Images
Boeing Co. is inspecting more than 400 stored 737 Max jets after discovering debris such as tools or rags left in the fuel tanks of several newly built but undelivered aircraft.
The checks aren’t likely to create a new delay for the Max, which Boeing estimates will be cleared to fly by midyear, said a person familiar with the matter who asked not to be named as the matter is confidential. The company has been working with regulators to recertify the 737 Max and end a grounding that began almost a year ago after two fatal accidents killed 346 people.
The debris problem -- a potential safety hazard -- is another embarrassment for Boeing as its new leaders work to reassure airlines, crew members and passengers of the company’s commitment to manufacturing quality and safety. Boeing has struggled with similar quality lapses in other aircraft, including KC-46 aerial refuelers supplied to the U.S. Air Force.
Foreign-object debris “is absolutely unacceptable. One escape is one too many,” Mark Jenks, a Boeing vice president and general manager of the 737 program, said in a message to employees that was viewed by Bloomberg.
The Chicago-based planemaker has held meetings with employees to share a new process for stopping debris from winding up in Max frames, Jenks said. The company, which has indefinitely halted Max production, plans to hold additional inspections, audits and checks in its “tank closure process” to ensure that nothing is left within fuel tanks, he added.
Read More: Airbus Presses Boeing Rivalry With Jet Deal, Production Ramp-Up
The Federal Aviation Administration said it had stepped up its supervision because of Boeing’s voluntary checks.
“The agency increased its surveillance based on initial inspection reports and will take further action based on the findings,” the FAA said in a statement.
Boeing shares were little changed at $339.05 after the close of regular trading in New York.
An inspection of each stored plane takes about three days to be completed, according to Leeham News, which reported earlier that debris had been discovered in some parked Max jets. The aircraft fuel tanks must be drained and fumes dissipated before work can begin.
Separately, Stan Deal, the head of Boeing’s jetliner division, named Mike Fleming to the newly created role of vice president of 737 Max Return to Service and Global Aviation Safety System. The appointment is one of the first changes to the senior management team that Deal has made since taking charge of Boeing’s main business in October.
Fleming previously was a vice president in charge of commercial services at Boeing Global Services, the division Deal previously ran.
He will oversee Boeing’s sprawling campaign to prepare about 800 grounded Max jets to resume flight. He will also spearhead the company’s safety outreach to customers, regulators and industry.
— With assistance by Alan Levin
(Updates with FAA statement, Boeing personnel change, starting in sixth paragraph.)
Undelivered Boeing 737 MAX Aircraft To Be Inspected For Foreign Objects
The plot thickens with the Boeing 737 MAX crisis after foreign objects from the manufacturing stage were found inside the fuel tanks of ground Boeing 737 MAXs. This has prompted Boeing to head back and inspect all 400 or so grounded aircraft.
Debris has been found in the fuel tanks of MAX aircraft. Photo: Getty ImagesWhat are the details?
This new situation is being reported from a source at Leeham News. According to its latest report, Boeing has informed the FAA that they have consistently found foreign object debris (FOD) inside the fuel tanks of their aircraft. This is unrelated to the grounding issue.
FODs are commonly described as material offcuts, tools or rags. Items that you might expect to find under your floorboards if you were to peel them back. Boeing, having discovered these items, has informed the FAA and said that they will need to inspect each of their grounded 400 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.
The inspection process will take up to three days for each aircraft, as the fuel tanks need to be drained and the fuel vapors evaporate before the tanks can be uncorked and cleaned. This will be part of the main inspection process to get the aircraft flying again and will take place during the recertification process.
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Boeing at this time has not outlined what the rest of the inspection process will entail, but it is believed that the fuel tank cleaning will not delay any redeployment of aircraft.
However, this news might infer some quality issues with the 737 MAX production line.
Is there a problem with the Boeing 737 MAX production line? Photo: GettyWhat could be the problem?
Debris is not commonly found in aircraft fuel tanks and may show that there is a production line problem somewhere during the construction of the Boeing 737 MAX.
Speaking to his 737 MAX team members, Mark Jenks, the Vice President and General Manager of the 737 Program, outlined how they were going to fix the issue:
“During these challenging times, our customers and the flying public are counting on us to do our best work each and every day. That’s why we’re taking action after a range of Foreign Object Debris (FOD) was recently found in the fuel tanks of several 737 MAX airplanes in storage.”
Boeing has 400 737 MAX aircraft in storage. Photo: Getty Images
“FOD is absolutely unacceptable. One escape is one too many. With your help and focus, we will eliminate FOD from our production system.”
Some of the new steps will include:
Whether or not these new steps will fix the problem moving forward with the production of the aircraft remains to be seen. But with the aircraft still grounded it is still a minor problem compared to the bigger elephant in the room.
- Updating instructions and checklists for team members who are working on the fuel tanks.
- “Additional verifications including inspections audits and checks into our tank closure process to ensure there is zero FOD within the fuel tanks.”
- “New signage added in these work areas to help remind teammates of the appropriate steps to take.”
What do you think of this news? Do you think that there is a problem with the fuel tank assembly process? Let us know in the comments