Malaysia Airlines hit by Boeing 737 MAX 8 delivery glitch

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airlines Bhd has hit a snag over the delivery of its first new aircraft type in five years.

The New Straits Times (NST) learnt that the delivery of the national carrier’s first Boeing 737 MAX 8 due on Monday (Aug 28) had been postponed.

Sources said Boeing had found issues with some of the aircraft parts, including the airframe during a series of test flights in Seattle recently.

“There were some defects from certain (aircraft) parts, so Boeing need to do the tests again to check,” one of the sources told the NST.

The source added that the tentative new delivery date was most likely in September.

The arrival ceremony of the B737 MAX 8 was planned by Malaysia Airlines’ parent Malaysia Aviation Group (MAG) in Sepang on Aug 28.

Responding to the NST’s query, Boeing said it has identified fastener holes that did not conform to its specifications in the aft pressure bulkhead on certain B737 aircraft.

“This is not an immediate safety of flight issue for the 737 fleet, which can continue operating safely.

“This issue will impact near-term 737 deliveries as we conduct inspections to determine the number of airplanes affected and complete required rework on those airplanes,” a Boeing spokesperson said.

The American plane manufacturer added that it continues to deliver 737 aircraft that are not affected and is currently working through the issue with its supplier.

Another source said Malaysia Airlines had recently sent a notice to invited guests that the event was postponed due to unforeseen circumstances.

“Due to unforeseen circumstances, the B737 (MAX) 8 aircraft arrival event will be postponed to a later date.”

“This decision has not been made lightly, and we understand the inconvenience this may cause. We deeply value your participation and are committed to ensuring that when the event takes place, it will be a remarkable experience for all involved.

“We will update you further once we have more information. We eagerly anticipate the opportunity to welcome you soon,” the notice said.

In January 2020, Malaysia Airlines had postponed the delivery of its B737 MAX 8 due to the aircraft’s delayed return to service following two fatal crashes involving Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines in October 2018 and March 2019 respectively.

The national airline has ordered 25 of the narrow-body aircraft in 2016 as part of its fleet modernisation plan.

On July 19, Malaysia Airlines shared pictures of its new livery on the aircraft with the repositioning of its iconic “wau” logo to reflect its determination to move forward with optimism and energy.

The new livery also showcases exquisite songket motif in gold hues that pays tribute to Malaysia’s vibrant cultural heritage.

The B737 MAX 8 was one of the best-selling passenger aircraft until it was grounded on March 13, 2019 by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) following the two major accidents that claimed 346 lives in the span of five months.

In 2019, former US president Donald Trump announced that both the B737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 aircraft were grounded, making these the only aircraft type in history to be grounded by a US president.

China was the first country to completely stop flying the B737 MAX 8 in March 2019 followed by Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

However in January this year, China Southern Airlines became the first Chinese carrier to start operating two B737 MAX 8 following the nod by the FAA for the aircraft type to resume service in late 2020.

The green light was given after Boeing made a series of software upgrades and training changes.

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