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FAA warned of "cracking and corrosion" problem on Boeing 777s

A cracking and corrosion problem on Boeing 777s (BA -0.7%) that could lead to the mid-air break-up of the aircraft prompted a warning from air safety regulators weeks before the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, federal records show.

The FAA issued an airworthiness directive ordering checks on hundreds of U.S.-registered 777s after reports of cracking in the fuselage skin underneath a satellite antenna; the directive was first drawn up in September, approved in February and was due to take effect April 9.

The directive warned that one operator of the jet reported a 16-inch crack in the skin of the fuselage on an airplane that was 14 years old with ~14K total flight cycles; the missing Malaysia Airlines jet was 12 years old and had completed 7,525 cycles.

The revelation may further speculation that a mechanical failure is among the most likely reasons for the plane’s disappearance.

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Comments (13)
  • Bandwidth Hog
    , contributor
    Comments (16) | Send Message
    I've read the Malaysian Airlines plane used a different SATCOM arrangement & therefore wasn't part of this FAA directive. I welcome evidence that proves or disproves this.
    12 Mar 2014, 11:49 AM Reply Like
  • usajordi
    , contributor
    Comments (207) | Send Message
    I love to fly 777, but I can't believe that FAA takes 5 month from discovering a very serious problem until they issue a letter requiring action and then they give an extra two month to start revising the planes.
    What Boeing has to say, prefer to wait until there are serious accidents to take action?
    12 Mar 2014, 12:14 PM Reply Like
  • alkmaar
    , contributor
    Comments (30) | Send Message
    Suicide or human error is more likely.
    12 Mar 2014, 09:42 PM Reply Like
  • alkmaar
    , contributor
    Comments (30) | Send Message
    This is how governments and/or bureaucracy work.
    12 Mar 2014, 09:42 PM Reply Like
  • Sparky787
    , contributor
    Comment (1) | Send Message
    It is very unlikely that a crack in the vicinity of the satellite antenna would be responsible for the transponder being turned off, the discontinuance of radio contact, the direction of flight changing by more than 90 degrees, and the flight continuing for another hour or so. So speculating that a possible crack in the fuselage is responsible for the missing 777 seems unfounded, and in particular that a mechanical failure is the most likely reason for the planes disappearance.
    12 Mar 2014, 12:15 PM Reply Like
    , contributor
    Comments (2) | Send Message
    Assuming that the information from the primary radar is correct and the plane turned more or less back and than flew for about an hour before disappearing from this radar tends to indicate foul play. If there were a serious mechanical problem - and an electrical (or other) problem that cuts out the transponder and makes it impossible to establish radio contact is in my eyes serious - a pilot would in my opinion try to land at the nearest possible airfield. I don't know if there are any political problems between Malaysia and Vietnam, but even that should not be an issue in the case of an emergency and the nearest airfield was obviously in Vietnam before he turned around.
    12 Mar 2014, 01:31 PM Reply Like
  • RoyG69
    , contributor
    Comments (14) | Send Message
    AD's are a regular occurance in the industry, and by the timing (written in the fall, scheduled to release in April) is non consistent with an Emergency AD that would be considered a large safety of flight issue. To propose that this lead to an inflight break up is making a huge jump to conclusion.
    12 Mar 2014, 01:31 PM Reply Like
  • thomas85225
    , contributor
    Comments (563) | Send Message
    During the aircraft C or D check inspection process the interiors is remove alone with the external paint then the aircraft is X-ray and NDT-Nondestructive Testing to check for cracking and corrosion problem this information is entry into FAA form 337, all this information is review and is kept in the aircraft recorder


  - Similar


    see Popular Mechanics June 1989 page 69
    12 Mar 2014, 03:45 PM Reply Like
  • pauldavidson
    , contributor
    Comments (2) | Send Message
    Just in case anyone need to fill out a FAA form 337, I found a blank form in this link This site PDFfiller also has several related forms that you might find useful.
    2 Mar, 01:01 PM Reply Like
  • dux20
    , contributor
    Comments (34) | Send Message
    I not saying mechanical problems are impossible but given what we're learned in the last 36 hours, foul play seems much more likely. Why weren't the Malaysian authorities more forthcoming earlier re what they saw on radar? Besides no average person would know HOW TO or even know that the transponder COULD BE deactivated. The airline has a good safety record and 777 passed a major inspection less than 2 weeks ago. Sparky787 and RODENBACK have it right.
    12 Mar 2014, 04:56 PM Reply Like
  • fearless195
    , contributor
    Comments (163) | Send Message
    Re the delay between suggested overflight of the Malay Peninsula and it's widespread dissemination, there are good reasons for this: unlike civilian systems, the military radar does not query the aircraft's transponder, but merely sees a blip; in non-sensitive areas these are not monitored in real time 24/7 but the overflight was likely discovered days later from a record held on a disk or data tape. I doubt the authorities relish telling Malaysians that they're not constantly in battle readiness, but this was likely the case and accounts for some bumbling by officials inexperienced in the graceful handling of media in a crisis. But the Chinese sat image, out there unannounced for days while China upped the pressure on Malaysia for info, is its own interesting exercise in withholding information.
    12 Mar 2014, 11:04 PM Reply Like
  • bleweagle
    , contributor
    Comments (38) | Send Message
    Hello ... Last night I heard David Soucie, former pilot and FAA inspector, author of "WHY PLANES CRASH" discuss this missing plane, he said, there would have to be plenty of debris in the water, if the wing would have failed, He is stumped, and not ruling out some kind foul play. He working on it full time, This story is interesting on so many fronts.
    13 Mar 2014, 10:21 AM Reply Like
  • thomas85225
    , contributor
    Comments (563) | Send Message
    note when will the press used a map showing all the counties, city and airports ? like Singapore


    this part of world is Heavy Jungle




    Signal problem may be at the root of plane's disappearance
    Mar 13th 2014 7:24PM
    Satellite Image Of Floating Debris Provides Hope In Search of Missing Malaysian Airliner
    KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - MARCH 13: Sgt. Zulhelmi Hassan of the Malaysian Air Forces searches the water for signs of debris from the Malaysian airliner during a search and rescue mission flight on March 13, 2014 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A Chinese agency has released a satellite image taken on March 9 of large floating debris in the waters between Kuala Lumpur and South Vietnam, reported to be a


    WASHINGTON (AP) -- A Malaysia Airlines plane was sending signals to a satellite for four hours after the aircraft went missing, an indication that it was still flying, said a U.S. official briefed on the search for the plane.


    The Boeing 777-200 wasn't transmitting data to the satellite, but was instead sending out a signal to establish contact, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to discuss the situation by name.


    Boeing offers a satellite service that can receive a stream of data during flight on how the aircraft is functioning and relay the information to the plane's home base. The idea is to provide information on whether maintenance work or repairs are needed before the plane lands so mechanics and parts can be ready, saving time and money.


    Malaysia Airlines didn't subscribe to that service, but the plane still had the


    capability of connecting with the satellite and was automatically sending pings,


    the official said.


    "It's like when your cellphone is off but it still sends out a little `I'm here' message to the cellphone network," the official said. "That's how sometimes they can triangulate your position even though you're not calling because the phone every so often sends out a little bleep. That's sort of what this thing was doing."


    The continuing pings led searchers to believe the plane could have flown hundreds of miles or more beyond its last confirmed sighting on radar, the official said. The plane had enough fuel to fly about four more hours, he said.


    The plane was en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing when radar contact was lost. However, messages involving a different, more rudimentary data service called the Aircraft Communications and Reporting System did not stop simultaneously with signals from the plane's transponder, a device used to identify the plane to radar, the official said. The data messages continued after the transponder went silent, the official said, although he wasn't certain for how long.


    The plane was initially thought to have gone down over the South China Sea. According to defense officials, the USS Kidd, a destroyer, is heading into the Indian Ocean. A U.S. surveillance plane is in the Strait of Malacca region and another U.S. surveillance plane is now en route to Malaysia, defense officials said.


    Boeing officials declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press.
    14 Mar 2014, 10:37 AM Reply Like
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