NTSB Investigates ‘Stuck’ Rudder Pedal Issue on Boeing 737 MAX 8

The United States National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is currently investigating an issue involving a Boeing 737 MAX 8 (Reg. N17338) aircraft that experienced "stuck" rudder pedals during landing. The incident occurred on a United Airlines flight last month. The flight in question, UAL Flight 1539, was en route from the Bahamas to New Jersey when the issue arose. During the landing rollout, the rudder pedals did not respond to the "normal" application of foot pressure while the pilots were attempting to maintain the runway centerline. Despite this, the plane was able to taxi safely to the gate at Newark Airport.


Boeing has stated that it worked with United Airlines to diagnose the rudder response issue, which was observed during two 737-8 flights in early February. The issue was successfully resolved with the replacement of three parts, and the airplane returned to service last month. This is the only report of this issue in the 737 MAX fleet.


The rudder pedal system on the Boeing 737 MAX 8 is identical to the prior generation 737 NG. Boeing is aware of two similar occurrences in 2019 on NGs that were resolved through component replacements. The NTSB's preliminary report stated that the captain asked the first officer to check his rudder pedals when the issue occurred. The first officer reported the same problem. Shortly thereafter, the rudder pedals began to operate normally.


Three days after the incident, United conducted a test flight and was able to duplicate the reported rudder system malfunction identified during the incident on the same plane. Post-incident inspection found no obvious malfunctions. After the removal of the rudder system components, United conducted a second flight test and found the rudder controls operated normally. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will refer questions to the NTSB as the investigation continues.

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