Boeing is recommending some airlines remove the 737 MAX from service to address an electrical issue. (Boeing)
Boeing on Thursday identified a potential electrical issue involving the 737 MAX and has recommended some airlines operating the aircraft, which recently re-entered service, temporarily pause those operations to address it.
"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 in an April 9 statement.
The airplane manufacturer said the recommendation for removal from service is being made to "allow for verification that a sufficient ground path exists for a component of the electrical power system." Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) both provided responses with limited information on the matter in reply to emailed inquiries from Avionics International.
"We are in contact directly with the impacted airlines and will provide additional information as it becomes available. Please note, this is not related to [maneuvering characteristics augmentation system] MCAS," a representative for Boeing told Avionics in an emailed statement.
The FAA published a statement to its Twitter account advising any passengers impacted by the temporary removal of the aircraft from service should contact affected airlines about possible flight delays and cancellations.
"Boeing notified the FAA late Thursday that it is recommending that operators of certain Boeing 737 MAX airplanes temporarily remove them from service to address a manufacturing issue that could affect the operation of a backup power control unit. The FAA is in contact with the airlines and the manufacturer and will ensure the issue is addressed," Ian Gregor, a public affairs specialist for the FAA told Avionics.
WestJet, the Calgary-based low-cost airline, has already removed one of the MAX jets within its operational fleet from service to address the electrical issue.
"Last night, WestJet was notified regarding a potential production issue with one of its 737 MAX aircraft and has removed the affected aircraft from service for subsequent inspection. Any maintenance, if necessary, will be completed before the aircraft returns to service," a representative for WestJet told Avionics.
The Canadian airline has been operating the MAX since Jan. 21, and operates a total of 14 MAX aircraft according to the WestJet representative.
Boeing's identification of the electrical power issue comes a week after the FAA granted type certification for the 737 MAX 8-200, a variant developed for Ryanair with capacity for up to 202 passengers and five crew members. EASA approved the 8-200 on Wednesday.
Southwest Airlines also recently completed the restructuring of its previous order for the MAX, making a firm commitment to Boeing for 100 aircraft, extending their 737 order book through 2031.
Boeing has not publicly identified any of the airlines it has contacted about the backup power issue. The FAA approved the MAX's return to service in November.