Emergency inspections ordered on all Boeing 737s in aftermath of China Airlines explosion

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Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The burnt-out wreckage of the aircraft.
Image: Thomas Mitchell.

The United States Federal Aviation Administration has issued an emergency Airworthiness Directive to all owners and operators of certain Next Generation Boeing 737s to inspect their aircraft in light of recent developments in the investigation of the recent China Airlines explosion.

An example of a Boeing 737 in commercial operation

The measures have been imposed due to the discovery that a structural bolt in the aircraft that exploded had come loose and punched a hole in the aircraft's right wing fuel tank.

It is thought the bolt came loose after a worker failed to replace a washer after a routine maintenance procedure several months prior to the accident.

Boeing spokesman Jim Proulx said "This was determined to be an issue of flight safety... It's very, very important."

Operators must complete an initial inspection of the wing slat assemblies of the affected aircraft in ten days, and must ensure the fasteners are properly torqued within 24 days. They must then repeat the inspections every 3,000 flight cycles thereafter. The directive is believed to affect over 2,000 aircraft worldwide.