By David Shepardson and Valerie Insinna
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Thursday airplane maker Boeing is urging airlines to inspect newer 737 MAX airplanes for a possible loose bolt in the rudder control system.
The FAA said it was “closely monitoring” Boeing 737 MAX targeted inspections and will consider additional action based on any further discovery of loose or missing hardware.
Boeing recommended inspections after an international operator discovered a bolt with a missing nut while performing routine maintenance on a mechanism in the rudder-control linkage, the FAA said. Boeing discovered an additional undelivered aircraft with a nut not properly tightened, the agency said.
Boeing did not immediately comment.
United Airlines said it did not “anticipate these inspections will have an impact on our operations.”
The FAA said Boeing had issued a message urging operators of newer single-aisle airplanes to inspect specific tie rods that control rudder movement for possible loose hardware.
“The FAA will remain in contact with Boeing and the airlines while the inspections are under way,” the agency said, asking airlines to answer if any loose hardware has been detected previously and provide details on how quickly these two-hour inspections can be completed.
The 737 MAX was grounded for 20 months worldwide after two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019 killed 346 people in Ethiopia and Indonesia. Boeing is still awaiting certification of its smaller 737 MAX 7 and larger MAX 10.
The FAA has carefully scrutinized the MAX. In 2021, the FAA said it was tracking all 737 MAX airplanes using satellite data.
(Reporting by David Shepardson and Valerie Insinna; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Nick Macfie)