FAA to Call for Safety Checks on Boeing 767s

By Paul Riegler on 26 January 2014
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Delta is the largest operator of 767 aircraft

Delta is the largest operator of 767 aircraft

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration will order U.S. airlines to conduct safety checks on more than 400 Boeing 767 aircraft on Monday to ensure that elevators, a flight control surface, won’t jam.

The FAA’s Airworthiness Directive was published online over the weekend and will be published in the Federal Register on Monday.

Elevators are typically hinged into the rear tail wing and help a plane climb and descend.  A problem with the aircraft’s elevators was first documented in 2000, at which time the FAA ordered enhanced inspections.  In the interim, Boeing has addressed the problem with interim fixes and, more recently, a permanent solution, the implementation of which is the subject of the FAA directive.

The Boeing 767 made its first flight on September 26, 1981, and entered service with launch customer United Airlines in 1982.  It was the first aircraft to be used on transatlantic extended-range twin-engine flights.  As of December 2013, Boeing had delivered 1,061 of the type to 71 airlines across the globe.  Most are still in service today.

Delta is the largest operator of 767s. Other airlines with large 767 fleets include American Airlines, United Airlines, and ANA.

The public, including airlines, was given the opportunity to comment on the directive prior to its publication.  The directive specifically allows airlines to bypass tests they previously conducted based on earlier Boeing service bulletins. It discounted United Airlines’ objection to the new directive, however, saying that it “specifies a terminating modification that will further reduce the probability of the unsafe condition identified in [earlier directives]” and also requires new tests.

The 767 has been subject to other directives in the past year as well.  In October of last year, the FAA ordered Boeing 767 operators to inspect main landing gear components and make changes to maintenance programs after cracks and heat damage to pivot joint components were found during numerous routine gear overhauls.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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