Published April 15, 2013
The top U.S. federal aviation authority on Monday said it is tightening the inspection requirements on Boeing’s (BA) 737s that includes more than 1,000 aircraft amid mounting reports of potentially faulty pins on the tail planes that could cause pilots to lose control of the airplane.
Despite the directive, an FAA spokesman told FOX Business that the cracks do not pose an “immediate flight safety issue.”
The directive was prompted by reports of an incorrect procedures used to apply the wear and corrosion protective surface coasting to attach pins of the horizontal stabilizer rear spat.
Costs related to the 737 directive are expected to surpass $10 million, though Boeing believes some of those costs may be covered by warranty, according to an industry official. Boeing would not comment on the cost implication.
The new directive, officially released on Monday, was posted on the Federal Register on Friday and the FAA said it was first proposed last September. It affects 737-600, -700, -800 and -900 aircraft.
In an emailed statement, Boeing said the directive "is not linked to any in-service event but rather a finding of surface finish degradation on recently-installed attachment pins."
The FAA order requires inspection and possible replacement of pins by 56,000 flight cycles. Since most 737s currently flying have 40,000 or fewer flight cycles, Boeing said the directive "does not require immediate action for any currently-flying 737s."
It is important to note the directive does not appear to be related to the Saturday Lion Air crash in Bali, where storm winds are believed to have dragged a 737 into the water near the runway, though that incident remains under investigation.
The FAA issues several hundred airworthiness directives each year, yet this week’s offers yet another public relations black-eye for Boeing. The jet manufacturer continues to suffer from the January 787 directive that grounded the Dreamliner fleet and forced Boeing to halt deliveries.