Boeing Co. grounded dozens of 737 Max jets to repair an electrical flaw that emerged just months after the planes were cleared to return to the skies, forcing airlines to cancel flights and line up replacement aircraft.
“Boeing has recommended to 16 customers that they address a potential electrical issue in a specific group of 737 Max airplanes prior to further operations,” the company said.
The company said that the “production issue” does not affect its entire fleet and told 16 operators that the jets should not be flown until it is addressed.
U.S. carriers including Southwest Airlines Co., American Airlines Group Inc. and United Airlines Holdings Inc. parked a combined 67 of the workhorse planes Friday, about a third of the Max jets currently in service around the world. The manufacturing glitch affects aircraft at 16 airlines, not the entire Max fleet, Boeing said in a statement.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said the potential lapse “could affect the operation of a backup power control unit,” adding the agency is in “contact with the airlines and the manufacturer and will ensure the issue is addressed.”
Boeing is working alongside the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on the issue, and confirmed it was not related to the flight-control system that grounded its planes previously.
“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.
“We are also informing our customers of specific tail numbers affected and we will provide direction on appropriate corrective actions.”
The latest issue was discovered by Boeing mechanics “on a production airplane during normal build activity,” according to a message to customers that was reviewed by Bloomberg. Operators were notified just hours after a separate email touting the growing number of flight hours and planes in service since the grounding ended in the U.S.
Boeing declined to say how many aircraft were affected of the 183 Max jets that have been put back into service since December. About 20 operators have been conducting about 400 daily flights, according to a separate memo.