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Some Boeing 737 MAX grounded again after another fault spotted

The beleaguered Boeing 737 MAX has run into another issue, with the plane-maker recommending that some of tis jets be grounded after identifying more safety problems. A “potential electrical issue” has been blamed for the sudden announcement, which could force some airlines to cancel flights after aircraft are benched.

“The recommendation is being made to allow for verification that a sufficient ground path exists for a component of the electrical power system,” Boeing said today. “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.”

Less than 100 jets are currently believed to be affected by the recommendation. In the US, impacted 737 MAX planes are operated by Southwest, United, American, and Alaska Air. For Southwest and United, approximately half of their current 737 MAX fleet are affected.

“Boeing recommends operators of some 737 MAX airplanes temporarily remove them from service to address a potential electrical issue,” the Federal Aviation Administration said today in a statement. “The FAA will ensure the issue is addressed. Passengers should contact airlines about possible flight delays and cancellations.”

There’s no indication of what, exactly, the electrical issue is in this case. Neither Boeing nor the FAA have detailed the problem. Nonetheless, grounding aircraft is a significant step, indicating that the issue is a serious one.

It wouldn’t be the first for the 737 MAX, of course. Boeing’s latest iteration of the venerable line of aircraft made headlines over the past couple of years after two fatal crashes, which investigators blamed on a fault in safety systems. The 737 MAX was designed to be more fuel efficient than previous versions, but changes to the aircraft’s balance and safety electronics that lacked redundancies were found to have led to pilots’ actions being overruled in certain scenarios.

As a result, the planes could refuse to correctly respond to flight inputs, potentially leading to crashes. 346 people were killed in the two 737 MAX accidents, and the entire fleet was grounded for almost two years in total as a full safety assessment took place. The final conclusions of that assessment came in November 2020.

737 MAX flights resumed last year, and Boeing has more recently announced fresh orders for the plane. Alaska Airlines and Southwest Airlines placed orders for more of the aircraft in March, with investment firm 777 Partners also ordering planes that month. The crash fallout is believed to have cost Boeing around $20 billion.

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Boeing 777 planes in the US, Japan grounded after engine failure

Boeing’s almost cursed 737 MAX is slowly starting to return to service but it seems that the aircraft maker has another headache coming. Fortunately, there were no lives lost before Boeing learned about what could be another faulty component that could have just as deadly consequences if left unchecked. Dozens of Boeing 777 planes have been temporarily put out of service after a flight from Denver had one of its engines failed in a rather dramatic way just after takeoff.

The good news is that there were no casualties or even injuries on United Airlines flight UA328 bound for Honolulu despite how frightening the circumstances were. The plane was able to turn around and make a safe landing even with only one engine working. Of course, given the technology of the times, people both onboard and on the ground were able to capture what could have been a harrowing disaster.

The Boeing 777-200’s right engine more than just failed, it also caught fire and was visibly damaged for everyone with a window seat to see. This was, of course, recorded on video by one of the passengers but the falling debris and parts of the engine were also captured on camera. Fortunately, again, no one on the ground was hurt despite those pieces falling onto neighborhoods.

The US FAA’s initial investigation pointed to a problem with the plane’s Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines and its unique hollow fan blades as the cause for the failure and has ordered an immediate or stepped-up inspection of planes using that particular engine. Although no grounding has been officially ordered, United Airlines is voluntarily grounding its fleet of 24 Boeing 777 using that specific engine. Japan, on the other hand, has ordered Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways to remove theirs from service. It is reported that only the US, Japan, and South Korea are using Boeing 777 with Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines.

Although it may seem like a cause for alarm over Boeing’s planes yet again, the incident does also demonstrate the careful design of planes as well. The fact that the pilots were able to make a safe landing despite having only one functional engine is a small but important testament to the redundant systems of aircraft. At the same time, it also calls into attention the need for more stringent inspection and testing of those systems and components, especially after fleets of planes have been grounded or out of operation in the past months.

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