Jun 17, 2024

Southwest Plane Suffered Structural Damage

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RevBlogTranscriptsBoeingSouthwest Plane Suffered Structural Damage

A Boeing 737 Max suffered damage to parts of the plane’s structure after a “Dutch roll” during flight. Read the transcript here.

Speaker 1 (00:00):

All right. What happened on that Southwest Airlines flight? A federal investigation is now underway into what caused a sudden jolt on a flight on May 25th. The Boeing 737 MAX was flying from Phoenix to Oakland when it did a Dutch roll. That’s when an airplane sways back and forth. This is an example of what it looked like. You can see the plane’s wings kind of tilt up and down on either side while the nose and tail wobble left to right. Investigators say the move damaged the jet. 175 passengers, six crew members were on board. Thankfully no one was hurt. The FAA and NTSB are investigating after Southwest reported the incident to the NTSB on June 7th, nearly two weeks after it happened. Let’s bring in retired pilot, Doug Rice. Doug, nice to see you. This looks actually like a stunt move at an air show. What happened here? Is this the pilot doing this or is this something else causing this?

Doug Rice (00:56):

No, this was the aircraft, a power control unit that operates the rudder, moved the rudder in flight. That power control unit should not have had any power. It’s a standby and it caused the rudder to deflect, which moved the airplane and the sway left and right with the subsequent roll.

Speaker 1 (01:16):

Okay. Doug, if you were flying or when you were flying and this happens, did it ever happen to you and what’s the recourse for the pilot? He or she has to quickly kind of straighten things out, correct?

Doug Rice (01:25):

Correct. The pilot would be aware of it almost instantaneously because he would feel it in the nose of the aircraft and he would also feel it in the rudder pedals and he would take action to nullify the motion and stabilize the aircraft.

Speaker 1 (01:41):

How often does this happen, and is this because of the actual fleet here of all the 737 MAX, or is it just the specific plane?

Doug Rice (01:50):

This is a very infrequent occurrence. This is the first one I’ve heard of in a 737 in probably 20 years. So this would be an isolated incident. The standby power control unit, which was the offender in this case, should not have been powered and that will be part of the investigation is to why it actuated the rudder and how it turned itself on when the regular power control unit was still operating.

Speaker 1 (02:18):

Doug, if I’m on this flight, am I feeling this? Am I getting tossed around?

Doug Rice (02:23):

You’re going to feel it in the front and the back of the aircraft as the aircraft sways. Those in the middle of the aircraft won’t feel very much at all.

Speaker 1 (02:30):

Amazing. Final question. Why does Southwest take so long to report it two weeks after it happened, then they report it?

Doug Rice (02:37):

My surmise is that they did not, or were not aware of the internal damage to the rudder structurally until much later and they notified the FAA and made a decision as to how they were going to repair it, which is why they took the aircraft back to Boeing and that’s when they notified the NTSB so they could begin an investigation.

Speaker 1 (02:59):

Another issue for Boeing. Doug Rice, a retired pilot, our analyst here on NBC. Thanks for your time. Appreciate it.

Doug Rice (03:05):

Thank you.

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