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

|About: The Boeing Company (BA)|By:, SA News Editor

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.