Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked on the tarmac at the Boeing Factory in Renton, Washington

Boeing 737 Max 8 Under Investigation Following In-Flight Incident

U.S. regulators are investigating an incident involving a Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Southwest Airlines, which experienced a potentially hazardous “Dutch roll” while in flight. This investigation is one of two new inquiries confirmed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) concerning Boeing aircraft.

The “Dutch roll” event, which causes the plane to rock side to side, occurred on May 25 during a flight from Phoenix, Arizona, to Oakland, California. The FAA reported that the aircraft regained control without injuries to those on board, but it sustained “substantial” damage. A post-flight inspection revealed significant damage to a unit providing backup power to the rudder.

Former UK accident investigator-turned-consultant Tim Atkinson commented, “Dutch roll can be unpleasant, but the 737 exhibits relatively benign characteristics. The time elapsed since the incident and the absence of airworthiness action on the fleet suggest this is a one-off, not another widespread problem for Boeing.”

In a separate issue, the FAA is also investigating potentially falsified documents used to certify titanium in Boeing planes. Boeing, which uncovered the issue, described it as “industry-wide,” involving shipments from a limited set of suppliers. Despite the falsified documentation, tests indicate the correct alloy was used. Boeing stated it is removing affected parts from planes prior to delivery and assured the in-service fleet’s safety.

A New York Times report indicated that the problem was first noticed by a supplier to Spirit AeroSystems, which alerted Boeing and Airbus. Over 1,000 tests have been conducted on the suspect parts, which were removed from production. Spirit spokesperson Joe Buccino clarified, “It is the documents that were counterfeit, not the titanium. The problem is we’ve lost traceability.”

The FAA noted that Boeing had issued a bulletin to suppliers to watch for counterfeit records and is probing the issue’s scope. Canadian transportation safety officials are collaborating with foreign regulators to address the titanium issue, ensuring compliance and safety.

These investigations come amid heightened scrutiny of Boeing’s safety record. Recent incidents, such as a panel detaching mid-flight in January, have sparked lawsuits and increased oversight. In response, Boeing has slowed production and presented the FAA with an action plan to resolve these safety concerns.

Boeing and Southwest Airlines are cooperating fully with the ongoing investigations. The outcomes will be closely monitored by industry stakeholders and safety campaigners alike.

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