© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Boeing logo is pictured at the Latin American Business Aviation Conference & Exhibition (LABACE) at Congonhas Airport in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on August 14, 2018. REUTERS / Paulo Whitaker
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced on Friday that U.S. operators of 143 Boeing (NYSE 🙂 Co 737 Classic series aircraft will need to look for possible wire failures due to an investigation into a crash in Indonesia in January .
The 737 Classic is an older generation of aircraft that are more than two decades old. The FAA said the problem affected 1,041 737-300, -400 and -500 Classic series aircraft worldwide, but few of them are now in service due to COVID-19 or other issues.
The FAA is issuing an airworthiness directive for operators to verify that the flap sync cable, which is used in the operation of the aircraft's automatic throttle system, is securely connected to a safety sensor.
The cable failure cannot be detected by the computer with automatic throttle valve in affected aircraft and represents a safety risk.
The FAA is calling for some quicker reviews than Boeing proposed, which said late Friday that it is "on an ongoing basis to introduce safety and performance improvements across its fleet."
The newer models 737 MAX and 737 NG are not affected by the directive.
The FAA and Boeing identified the potential problem during their investigation into the Jan. 9 Sriwijaya Air Flight 182 crash in the Indonesian capital.
Indonesia's third major plane crash in just over six years highlighted the Southeast Asian nation's poor flight safety record.
All 62 on board were killed after the 26-year-old Boeing Co. 737-500 crashed into the Java Sea shortly after taking off from Jakarta.
The FAA said there was no evidence that the valve sync wire problem played a role in the accident, although the possibility of a failed connection posed a safety risk that warranted immediate attention.
In February, the Indonesian National Transportation Safety Committee (KNKT) announced that the plane had an imbalance in engine thrust that eventually put it into a sharp roll before making a final dive into the sea.
Two problems have already been reported with the autothrottle system, which automatically controls engine performance based on maintenance logs. However, the problem was fixed four days before the crash, the agency said.
Boeing issued a message to operators on March 30th instructing them to electronically check the LPG computer to ensure the cable was connected within 250 hours of flight.
The FAA requires the first test within 250 flight hours or two months, whichever comes first, "to ensure that aircraft with low occupancy rates are addressed in a timely manner". Operators will then need to make repairs if necessary.
The FAA said a faulty connection could prevent the automatic throttle system from detecting the position of the aircraft flaps when the aircraft's engines are operating at different thrust settings due to some other malfunction.
The FAA requires follow-up checks every 2,000 hours of flight after the first.
According to the FAA, affected US operators are Aloha Air Cargo, DHL, iAero Airways, Kalitta Charters and Northern Air Cargo.
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