SpiceJet Boeing 737 aircraft (File photo)
NEW DELHI: Aviation authorities will inspect the Boeing 737s of SpiceJet, Vistara and Air India Express — the three airlines that use this aircraft in India. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) took this step after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Friday issued an emergency airworthiness directive (AD) for all Boeing 737s that have not flown for seven or more days at a stretch.
In addition, those B737s too will be inspected that have not done more than 10 flights after return to service from their most recent period of storage due to the pandemic. The US regulator warned that corrosion of certain parts could lead to twin engine failure on such B737s. A senior DGCA official said, “We have asked for compliance from the operators concerned — Vistara, SpiceJet and Air India Express.”
Boeing said in a statement: “Out of an abundance of caution, Boeing has advised operators of 737 Classic airplanes (series -300 to -500) and Next-Generation 737s (series -600 to -900) to inspect an engine valve for corrosion. With airplanes being stored or used infrequently due to lower demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, the valve can be more susceptible to corrosion. Boeing is providing inspection and replacement information to fleet owners if they find an issue.”
A SpiceJet spokesman said: “The FAA AD applies to a small number of B737s in our fleet that haven’t yet completed ten cycles on return of aircraft to service. They are being inspected. The majority of our planes have completed ten cycles already and are not affected by this AD.” A Vistara spokesperson said the airline is “in compliance (with it). The inspection has already been completed on all six of our B737 aircraft.”
The FAA says the alert “was prompted by four recent reports of single-engine shutdowns caused by engine bleed air fifth stage check valves stuck in the open position. The FAA is issuing this AD to address corrosion of the engine bleed air fifth stage check valves for both engines, which could result in compressor stalls and dual-engine power loss without the ability to restart, which could result in a forced off-airport landing.”
“Any airplane that, for seven or more consecutive days, has not been operated in flight is considered to be in ‘storage.’… Before further flight, do inspections (as) specified on the engine bleed air fifth stage check valve on each engine. If any engine bleed air fifth stage check valve fails any inspection, replace that engine bleed air stage check valve before further flight,” the AD says.