Mar 7, 2024 - Business

NTSB investigating Boeing's "stuck" rudder pedals on United Airlines flight

A Boeing 737-8 MAX parked at Renton Municipal Airport in Washington on Jan. 25. Photo: Jason Redmond / AFP via Getty Images

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating a United Airlines Boeing 737-8 flight that last month experienced "stuck" rudder pedals after touching down in Newark, per a preliminary report released Thursday.

The big picture: The investigation comes as the aircraft maker is facing scrutiny over how it manages safety, following an emergency door blowout aboard a Boeing 737 MAX 9 earlier this year.

Zoom in: The incident on the Boeing 737-8 occurred Feb. 6 on United Airlines flight 1539 during landing at Newark Liberty International Airport.

  • The captain reported that during the landing rollout, which is after touchdown but before the plane slows to taxi speed, the pedals did not respond to foot pressure and remained stuck.
  • "The captain used the nosewheel steering tiller to keep the airplane near the runway centerline while slowing to a safe taxi speed before exiting the runway onto a high-speed turn-off," the report states.

Yes, but: Shortly after, the rudder pedals began to operate normally, the captain said.

  • There were no injures and the airplane was removed from service for maintenance and troubleshooting.

What they found: An inspection found no obvious malfunctions, the NTSB said.

  • After removing the rudder system components, United conducted a second flight test and found the rudder controls operated normally, per the report.
  • "With coordination with United, the issue was successfully resolved with the replacement of three parts and the airplane returned to service last month," Boeing said in a statement, adding that this is the only report of such an issue that they've received for the 737 MAX fleet.
  • The investigation is ongoing.

What they're saying: "We appreciate the NTSB's work on this preliminary report and will continue to fully support their investigation," Boeing said.

  • "We worked closely with United Airlines to diagnose the rudder response issue observed during two 737-8 flights in early February," Boeing continued.
  • United, for their part, said: "We're grateful to our pilots and maintenance teams for their professionalism in diagnosing this issue. We'll continue to work with Boeing, the NTSB and the FAA on next steps for these aircraft."

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