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US Airlines Begin Boeing 737 MAX Repairs, Expect Swift Return to Service



Three major U.S. airlines stated today that they plan to quickly repair more than 60 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, which were grounded in mid-April, due to a potential electrical problem that’s tied to some critical systems.

According to Reuters, Boeing sent the world’s 16 affected air carriers a service bulletin yesterday outlining how to address the production issue that’s currently affecting 109 airplanes in total.

As U.S. demand for air travel has lately begun to rebound, the American carriers relievedly received Boeing’s repair instructions, which should enable the aircraft’s return to service prior to the onset of a summer travel season that typically starts in late May.

This latest grounding of roughly one-quarter of the MAX fleet was announced on the heels of the aircraft model’s previous worldwide removal from service, which lasted for 20 months when a design flaw caused two fatal crashes to occur within six months of one another. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) authorized the 737 MAX’ return to flying in November 2020 only after Boeing completed exhaustive repairs and provided updated pilot training to rectify the software issue.

In signing off on yesterday’s service bulletins, the FAA noted that the plane’s present electrical problem hasn’t caused any in-service failures. Also on Wednesday, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told U.S. lawmakers that the electrical defect would require a “pretty straightforward fix.”

The issue, found on 737 MAXs manufacturing since early 2019, is related to a backup power control unit inside the cockpit that’s secured with fasteners instead of rivets, thereby failing to provide a complete electrical grounding path. The issue was afterward identified in two other places aboard the flight deck: the pilots’ instrument panel and the rack where the control unit is stored.

United Airlines’ spokesperson Leslie Scott said the airline expects its, “Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to return to service in the coming days, as we complete our inspection process and ensure those aircraft meet our rigorous safety standards.”

American Airlines announced that it would begin making the necessary repairs and anticipates that, “all affected aircraft will begin safely returning to service in the upcoming days.”

With the greatest number of affected aircraft (32), Southwest Airlines said it estimates the work will take between two and three days per plane. Hoping to start work on the repairs within the next several days, the carrier forecasts it will take about three weeks to complete.

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