Boeing’s troubled 737 MAX jet suffered yet another setback on Friday after the aircraft manufacturer told 16 airlines to ground some of the planes over a manufacturing problem affecting the electrical power system.
Airlines affected by the new grounding include American Airlines and Alaska, as well as Southwest Airlines which renewed its faith in the 737 MAX only last week with a firm order for 100 more jets and options for an additional 155 MAX aircraft.
Southwest is believed to be the worst affected carrier having been ordered to temporarily remove 30 of its 58 MAX8 aircraft from service. American Airlines will need to temporarily nix 17 MAX jets, while United has been told to ground 16 of its 30 MAX planes.
The 737 MAX was only given the green light to fly again last December after a near two-year grounding ordered by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other regulators around the world over a faulty flight software system that resulted in two fatal crashes in less than six months.
In a statement released on Friday, Boeing said it had asked 16 airlines to ground some MAX planes over “a potential electrical issue in a specific group of 737 MAX airplanes”. Boeing did not name which airlines were affected.
“The recommendation is being made to allow for verification that a sufficient ground path exists for a component of the electrical power system,” a spokesperson for Boeing continued.
“We are working closely with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on this production issue. We are also informing our customers of specific tail numbers affected and we will provide direction on appropriate corrective actions.”
In a short statement, the FAA confirmed it was working with Boeing on the issue and that it would “ensure the issue is addressed”.
The issue is not connected with the controversial MCAS flight control system that caused a Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines 737MAX to crash. Analysts believe the issue only affects 737 MAX planes that were delivered after the FAA approved the plane for a return to the skies.
Providing more information on the issues, a spokesperson for American Airlines said Boeing had “traced the issue to a production change made in the installation process” and that a fix could take a matter of days to implement.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.