Three US carriers airlines have removed some of their Boeing 737 MAX jets from service due to an issue related to the “back-up power control unit.” The beleaguered aircraft was only re-certified for use by the FAA in November 2020 after nearly two years on the ground due to two fatal crashes, which collectively cost 346 lives.
The three carriers – American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines – are the only ones to operate the 737 MAX, but it seems the issue only affects the most recently acquired aircraft rather than those delivered prior to the 2019 grounding.
“Last night, Boeing notified us of a potential production issue with a component in the electrical power system on 17 of our most recently delivered Boeing 737 Max,” American says. “At Boeing’s direction, we have temporarily removed these 17 aircraft from service in order to complete necessary inspections and make any changes recommended or required by Boeing or the Federal Aviation Administration.”
The statement continued: “We will continue to work with the FAA, Boeing and our union leaders and their safety teams as a thorough assessment of the issue is completed.”
On April 9, Boeing revealed that it had recommended that 16 airlines “address a potential electrical issue in a specific group of 737 Max airplanes prior to further operations”.
Boeing added: “The recommendation is being made to allow for verification that a sufficient ground path exists for a component of the electrical power system.”
The company has not specified how many of its 737 MAXes are affected by the recommendation. Globally, there are 176 aircraft currently active among 22 different airlines. Ryanair has ordered 75 additional 737 MAXs, bringing its total to 210.
In January, The European Air Safety Authority (EASA) and the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority both gave a green light to the Boeing 737 MAX to resume flying in European and UK air spaces, with certain modifications to the original aircraft. These include a package of software upgrades, electrical working rework, maintenance checks, operations manual updates and crew training.
So far, no other airline has reported any issues or has ordered the removal of any of its 737 MAX’s.