‘Unacceptable’: Debris found in fuel tanks of Boeing 737 MAX planes

Aircraft maker Boeing says it has found debris contaminating the fuel tanks of “several” 737 MAX planes that were built in the past year.

The debris was discovered in an undisclosed number of planes and has been described as “absolutely unacceptable” by Boeing’s head of the 737 program.

Foreign object debris is a term used to describe rags, tools, metal shavings and other materials left behind by workers during the production process – and it has been a problem for other Boeing models in the past.

Boeing president and chief executive David Calhoun says his company recognises "we have a lot of work to do".

Boeing boss: Our planes will be safe

Boeing’s 737 MAX planes have been grounded since March last year after two crashes killed 346 people.

The company has continued to manufacture the planes at a rate of 42 a month in hope that they will be certified to fly again this summer.

Boeing had built about 400 undelivered MAX jets before production was temporarily halted last month.

A statement from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it was prioritising safety and is “following a thorough, deliberate process to verify that all proposed modifications to the Boeing 737 MAX meet the highest certification standards”.

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The planes which were discovered to have debris inside had not yet been delivered to airlines.

Internal messages reveal Boeing worker wouldn't let his own family on a 737 MAX

Internal messages reveal Boeing worker wouldn’t let his own family on a 737 MAX

Boeing says it has immediately made corrections to its production system after the debris was found during maintenance on the parked planes.

More inspections will now be performed before fuel tanks are sealed.

Mark Jenks said in a memo to employees who work on the 737: “During these challenging times, our customers and the flying public are counting on us to do our best work each and every day.”

He said the debris was “absolutely unacceptable. One escape is one too many”.

A Boeing spokesperson says the company still believes the FAA will certify the plane to fly again in the summer.

The company is conducting a voluntary inspection of its undelivered MAX planes, and the FAA says it has “increased its surveillance based on initial inspection reports and will take further action based on the findings”.

The 777X is expected to enter service in 2021, a year later than originally scheduled because of development snags.

Jan: Boeing 777X completes maiden flight

Boeing is conducting test flights to assess updates to a flight-control system that has been blamed for the two crashes.

Although investigators looking into the accidents have not pointed to production problems at the assembly plant near Seattle, the company has faced concerns about debris left in other finished planes, including the 787 Dreamliner, which is built in South Carolina.

There is a risk of electrical short-circuiting and fires if tools, metal shavings and other objects are left in planes during assembly.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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