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April 14, 2024
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This morning, the FAA published another AD for the Boeing MAX.

The AD states: “This proposed AD was prompted by a report of a non-conforming installation of spoiler wire bundles that led to unintended spoiler motion, including one instance of spoiler hardcover.”

The FAA received reports of “multiple unusual spoiler deployments, which resulted in an uncommanded roll to the right” during the flight cruise. The FAA investigation notes, “The related “SPOILERS” fault light on the P5–3 panel came on, and the spoiler control electronics (SCE) issued spoiler 10 fault code 27–01630. This event was noted as intermittent and was seen on multiple flights. A subsequent investigation found the root cause of the event was wire chafing damage due to spoiler control wire bundles riding on the landing gear beam rib in the right wing trailing edge due to non-conforming installation of spoiler wire bundles that occurred during production. This condition, if not addressed, could result in loss of control of the airplane.

Is this yet another hint of a production “quality escape?” It is a disturbing pattern.  Can reintegrating Spirit AeroSystems help solve these issues and turn the pattern around? JP Morgan notes: “This won’t be a great financial transaction for Boeing near term and it’s not what mgmt intended coming into the year, in our view. But ultimately, it makes sense for Boeing to re-integrate Spirit and control the production of its key structures.

Regarding the link above, Boeing responded to that article by saying: “These directives are unrelated, affecting different airplane models with different designs. The 787 NPRM is intended to address an isolated issue observed in fleet operations while the 737 MAX NPRM is intended to address a remote concern that has never occurred in service. Neither is an immediate safety-of-flight concern based on extensive engineering analysis. In both cases, the FAA NPRM proposes fleet actions that Boeing previously recommended to operators.

As this shows, our extensive efforts to further improve airplane safety include systematically reviewing issues in the in-service fleet and also using modeling analysis to identify potential issues that have never occurred. Then we work within Boeing and transparently with customers and suppliers, under the oversight of our regulator, to address any concerns.”

The FAA is issuing this NPRM after determining that the unsafe condition described previously is likely to exist or develop on other products of the same type of design—the agency estimates repair costs at close to $18,000.

FAA

The number of issues on the MAX has now attracted the kind of attention reserved for Spirit Airlines.  Wells Fargo notes on the possible reintegration of Spirit AeroSystems: “In our view, this move could mean BA has decided it can no longer tolerate missteps at SPR, given the increased regulatory scrutiny it now faces. It also allows BA to deflect blame, and to show it is taking action to improve quality, potentially appeasing regulators.”

Indeed, something has to be done.  How much longer can this go on?

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Co-Founder AirInsight. My previous life includes stints at Shell South Africa, CIC Research, and PA Consulting. Got bitten by the aviation bug and ended up an Avgeek. Then the data bug got me, making me a curious Avgeek seeking data-driven logic. Also, I appreciate conversations with smart people from whom I learn so much. Summary: I am very fortunate to work with and converse with great people.

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