Southwest Airlines and American Airlines are among the U.S. carriers grounding dozens of their Boeing 737 MAX jets after warnings of electrical issues on some aircraft surfaced this week.
Boeing has told 16 of its customers to address a possible electrical issue in a group of 737 MAX aircraft before using them further.
The MAX was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after two crashes killed 346 people. Regulators in the U.S., Europe, Canada, Brazil and other countries cleared the plane to resume flying after Boeing changed an automated flight-control system that played a role in the crashes.
Boeing said Friday that the recommendation was made “to allow for verification that a sufficient ground path exists for a component of the electrical power system.” It did not specify how many aircraft could be involved.
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines and Fort Worth-based American Airlines are the two biggest users of the MAX aircraft, The Dallas Morning News reported.
American Airlines, the first U.S. airline to bring the Max back into service, removed 17 of its most recently delivered 737 MAX jets from service on Friday, The News reported. American has 24 other 737 MAX jets not impacted by the warning.
“At Boeing’s direction, we have temporarily removed these 17 aircraft from service in order to complete necessary inspections and make any changes recommended or required by Boeing or the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA),” American spokeswoman Sarah Jantz said in a statement to The News. “As we shared when we returned the 737 MAX to commercial service, the safety of our customers and team members comes above all else. It’s with this unequivocal standard that we rigorously maintain and monitor all our aircraft — including the Boeing 737 MAX — to ensure every plane in the air is safe."
Southwest spokesman Brian Parrish said 30 of the airline’s 58 737 MAX 8 aircraft are affected by the notification. While Southwest hasn’t experienced any known operational challenges related to the issue, it has removed the 30 planes from its schedule for further review.
Southwest is currently operating a limited schedule with the MAX, but Parrish said that the company will swap any flights previously scheduled with the impacted aircraft. It has a fleet of more than 700 Boeing 737s. The company anticipates the issue causing minimal disruption to operations.
Boeing said that it’s working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration on the matter.
Shares of Boeing Co., based in Chicago, slipped less than 1% before the opening bell Friday.