SEATTLE — In the latest of a string of quality control issues, Boeing discovered debris that mechanics left inside the wing fuel tanks of several undelivered 737 MAX jets during the aircraft assembly process.
Boeing has ordered inspections of all the undelivered planes — about 400 of which are stored at various locations.
Regarding the additional 385 MAXes that were delivered to customers but have been grounded for almost a year and are parked at airfields around the world, company spokesman Bernard Choi said Boeing is recommending inspections for those airplanes that have been in storage for more than a year.
“It’s still undecided if we will inspect the rest” of the delivered MAX fleet, he added. “Obviously, we’ll do what’s right for safety.”
Mark Jenks, vice president and general manager of the 737 program and its Renton assembly site, sent all 737 employees a message Tuesday outlining a series of actions to deal with the problem of what’s referred to in the aviation industry as “foreign object debris,” or FOD.
“FOD is absolutely unacceptable,” his message said. “We need our entire team to make this a priority.”
Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers said that although Boeing now must inspect all the stored Maxes for similar debris, “we don’t think this changes our timeline for the MAX return to service” by mid-summer.
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In a statement, the Federal Aviation Adminstration said the agency increased its surveillance based on initial inspection reports and “will take further action based on the findings.”
Boeing’s message to employees did not specify exactly what debris had been found inside the wings, saying only that “a range” of FODs were found recently.