NTSB investigates ‘stuck’ control incident on Boeing 737 Max

Boeing is involved in a new federal investigation involving the 737 Max after United Airlines pilots reported that part of the plane’s flight controls became jammed while landing in Newark last month.

In its latest preliminary report on the February 6 incident, the National Transportation Safety Board said the pilot of the Boeing 737 Max 8 “experienced a ‘stuck’ rudder pedal during the landing taxi.” The rudder controls the yaw of the aircraft, or the side-to-side swing of the nose.

The NTSB said none of the 161 people aboard United Flight 1539 was injured and the plane returned to the gate, although United maintenance crews “replicated the reported rudder system failure” during a test flight three days later.

The investigation is the latest involving a nearly new Boeing 737 Max aircraft, following a Jan. 5 door plug burst on an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9. Delivery to United Airlines in February 2023.

The NTSB said the servo in question has been disabled by United Airlines, but as part of the investigation, cold-temperature testing by Collins Aerospace, the company that makes the autopilot servo connected to the 737 Max 8’s rudder controls, showed the servo’s The “output crank” arm will prevent the rudder pedals from moving.

“We appreciate the professionalism of our pilots and maintenance team in diagnosing this issue. We will continue to work with Boeing, the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA to develop next steps for these aircraft,” United said in a statement expressed in.

This is the first time this issue has been reported on the 737 Max, but not the first time on any Boeing aircraft, according to people familiar with the matter.

Similar situations have been reported twice, both in 2019, on previous 737 models. Sources said that in the two previous cases, the problem was solved by replacing parts on the aircraft.

“We worked closely with United Airlines to diagnose the rudder response issue,” Boeing said in a statement. “Through coordination with United, the issue was successfully resolved by replacing three parts and the aircraft returned to service last month. ”

United said the defective parts were not part of the typical configuration used on its aircraft. The aircraft was originally built for another airline but was later transferred to United Airlines.

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