FAA Proposes Directives for Boeing 737NG Inspections Following 2018 Southwest Incident

On Tuesday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced its plans to issue three directives. These directives are aimed at enforcing inspections and replacements of certain components in the engine housing of Boeing 737NG airplanes. This decision was prompted by a fatal incident involving a fan blade on a Southwest Airlines flight in 2018. The directives will apply to 1,979 U.S.-registered and 6,666 737 airplanes globally, mandating operators to carry out the necessary inspections and replacements on the engine cowling by July 2028.


Boeing expressed its support for the FAA's proposal, which enforces a set of service bulletins that Boeing issued to enhance the design of the 737NG. Boeing assured that airlines can safely operate their fleet with temporary measures until permanent modifications are implemented.

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The 737NG was the latest model of the top-selling jet before the introduction of the 737 MAX. In April 2018, a passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight was killed due to an engine failure triggered by a broken fan blade. This was the first fatal accident on a U.S. passenger airline since February 2009. Following the incident, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) urged Boeing to redesign the fan cowl structure. In response, Boeing developed modifications to the inlet cowl, fan cowl, and exhaust nozzle, which the FAA stated must be installed by July 2028.

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The accident happened 20 minutes into the flight when a fan blade broke due to a fatigue crack on a Boeing 737-700 jet. The jet, powered by two CFM International CFM56-7B engines, had just departed from New York's LaGuardia Airport and was en route to Dallas. However, it had to be diverted to Philadelphia International Airport. Out of the 144 passengers on board, eight sustained minor injuries. At the time of the fatal incident, the NTSB was already investigating a 2016 engine failure on another Southwest 737-700.

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