© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Boeing logo is pictured at the Latin American Business Aviation Conference and Exhibitions (LABACE) fair at Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil, August 14, 2018. REUTERS / Paulo whitaker
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Friday it was requiring U.S. operators of 143 Boeing (NYSE 🙂 Co 737 Classic Series to check for possible cable failures resulting from an accident investigation in Indonesia in January.
The 737 Classic is an older generation of aircraft over two decades old. The FAA said the issue affected 1,041,737-300, -400 and -500 Classic Series aircraft around the world, but few are now in service, due to COVID-19 or other issues. .
The FAA issues an airworthiness directive for operators to verify that the flap timing wire, which plays a role in the operation of the aircraft’s auto-acceleration system, is securely connected to a safety sensor.
Wire failure could go undetected by the auto-accelerator computer on affected aircraft and pose a safety risk.
The FAA is demanding faster checks than had been suggested by Boeing, which said Friday evening it was “engaged in continued efforts to introduce safety and performance improvements throughout the fleet.”
The new 737 MAX and 737 NG are not affected by the directive.
The FAA and Boeing identified the potential problem during the investigation into the Jan. 9 crash of Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 in the Indonesian capital.
Indonesia’s third major air crash in just over six years highlighted the Southeast Asian country’s poor aviation safety record.
All 62 on board were killed after the age of 26 Boeing Co The 737-500 crashed in the Java Sea shortly after take off from Jakarta.
The FAA said there was no evidence the flap timing wire issue played a role in the crash, although the possibility of a failed connection presented a safety issue that needed prompt attention.
In February, the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) said the plane exhibited an imbalance in engine thrust that ultimately led it to a sharp roll before a final dive into the sea.
Two previous issues had been reported with the auto-throttle system that automatically controls engine power based on maintenance logs, but the problem was corrected four days before the crash, the agency said.
On March 30, Boeing sent a message to operators directing them to perform electronic checks of the automatic throttle computer to confirm that the wire is connected within 250 flight hours.
The FAA requires the initial test within 250 flight hours or two months from now, whichever comes first, “to ensure low-duty aircraft are dealt with in a timely manner.” Operators should then make repairs, if necessary.
The FAA said a faulty connection could cause the auto-accelerator system to fail to detect the aircraft’s flap position if the aircraft’s engines were operated at different thrust settings due to a other malfunction.
The FAA requires follow-up inspections every 2,000 flight hours after the first one.
The affected US operators are Aloha Air Cargo, DHL, iAero Airways, Kalitta Charters and Northern Air Cargo, the FAA said.
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