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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has ordered the inspection of 737s after four non-fatal engine shutdowns were reported, according to USA Today. The shutdowns are likely due to the fact that the planes have been inactive for so long.
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The coronavirus pandemic has forced many airlines to ground their planes and leave them sitting for weeks. Now, as airlines resume flights after weeks without being used, they find that a key valve has a tendency to get stuck.
"If this valve opens normally at takeoff power, it may become stuck in the open position during flight and fail to close when power is reduced at the top of descent," states the FAA's directive. The issue may affect up to 2000 planes further warns the FAA.
The non-fatal incident has occurred on four occasions recently. The valve caused one engine to shut down in four incidents. Luckily, the planes were all able to land safely without any injuries to anyone.
The planes' airlines were not revealed but Alaska Airlines did confirm that one of its planes suffered an "engine shutdown issue'' on a July 15 in a flight from Seattle to Austin, Texas. They made an emergency landing on another airport and had to get their engine changed.
However, the FAA fears that the valve problem could further result in incidents that see both engines shut down. "Corrosion of these valves on both engines could result in a dual-engine power loss without the ability to restart," the FAA wrote. This could see much more dangerous landings occurring.
Boeing spokesman Peter Pedraza released a statement in response to the FAA directive that said that Boeing had advised operators of 737 Classic airplanes (series -300 to -500) and Next-Generation 737s (series -600 to -900) to inspect the engine valve for corrosion. The spokesman further added that the firm would provide inspection and replacement information to fleet owners should they discover a problem.