Tuesday, 19 June 2018

FAA calls for urgent tests on Boeing 767-300's wings

The US Federal Aviation Administration has sent out orders to all US based operators of the Boeing 767-300 aircraft fitted with winglets to carry out special test on the wing structure following fatigue cracks on other aircraft.

Aviation Partners Boeing winglets on the 767-300 give the aircraft an enhanced performance whilst also saving fuel and were introduced to American Airlines aircraft in 2009 and other operators followed over recent times.

The FAA has issued an Airworthiness Directive which tells operators they need to do high-frequency eddy-current checks for cracking of the lower outboard wing skin on the modified aircraft.  The directive also requests repeat checks, modification of internal stringers, and other similar safety measures.

Fatigue cracking in the skin of the wing and winglet could result in the separation of the winglet from the wing causing greatly reduced controllability. It's estimated that there are 140 767-300's in the US with the winglets and the estimated cost of the check is $510 each aircraft.  American Airlines and Delta have been reticent about checking the aircraft and asked for a grace period of some 18 months to carry out the inspections.