Potential issues with the horizontal stabilizer of the Boeing 737 have led to an inspection order by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. The airworthiness directive affects more than 1,000 of the aerospace giant’s short- to medium-range narrow-body jets.
The order comes after concern that the pins used to attach the tail, which control the aircraft’s longitudinal stability in flight, could break because of inadequate anticorrosive coating.
“We are issuing this [airworthiness directive] to prevent premature failure of the attach pins, which could cause reduced structural integrity of the horizontal stabilizer to fuselage attachment, resulting in loss of control of the airplane,” the FAA said.
Several 737 models are affected, including the most recent 737-900. The cost of resolving the issue is estimated at $10 million, and the Boeing Company (NYSE:BA) hasn't raised any objection to the inspection order. Regulators in other countries tend to follow suit with FAA directives.
Some orders are more serious than others, but this one appears to be routine. There's no indication that passengers have been at any greater risk flying in the aircraft, but the order comes soon after Boeing’s recent woes with its 787 Dreamliner. On Jan. 16, the FAA issued an emergency airworthiness directive that grounded the aircraft pending an investigation over the potential fire hazard of the aircraft’s on-board lithium-ion batteries. On April 5, the company completed a 787 test flight, the first step toward getting the flight ban lifted. Data from the test is being reviewed by the FAA.