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16 airlines warned to check certain 737 MAX jets for electrical grounding fault

United Airlines Boeing 737 MAX ©AirTeamImages

With the Boeing 737 MAX only recently cleared to take to the skies again in the U.S. Boeing has now announced that there is a potential electrical problem with a certain number of the jets. “Boeing has recommended to 16 customers that they address a potential electrical issue in a specific group of 737 MAX airplanes prior to further operations,” the company said.

Before returning to operational status airlines will need to verify that one of the components of the 737 MAX’s electrical system has been properly grounded. Boeing is working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in relation to the problem. The system in question has been likened to functioning like a circuit breaker panel in a residential property and it is understood that the issue specifically involves a backup to the main power system that powers all of the aircraft’s electrical parts; the fault has the potential to cause an onboard fire. The planes in question are the more recent, more fuel-efficient versions which have lower maintenance costs than older models.

Southwest Airlines has confirmed the issue affects 30 jets in its fleet. United Airlines has confirmed that the problem affects 16 of its 30 MAX planes. “We are working to swap out aircraft to minimize the impact to our customers,” it said. “We are in communication with Boeing to understand the timeline for returning the aircraft safely to our fleet. We do not have an estimate right now.” American Airlines said the issue does not affect the MAX jets it had in its fleet before the original grounding but involves 17 jets that were built during or after that grounding and which have delivered to the airline since November. Meanwhile China has still not lifted its original grounding order for the 737 MAX.

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