Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max Goes into “Dutch Roll” During Phoenix-Oakland Flight

Federal officials said Thursday they are investigating an unusual rolling motion on a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 that may have been caused by a damaged emergency power control unit.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it was working with Boeing and the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate the incident on a May 25 flight from Phoenix to Oakland. Southwest says it is working with the FAA and Boeing.

The FAA said the plane performed a “Dutch roll,” the name given to the combination of a yaw motion when the tail slides and the plane swings from one wing tip to the other. It is said to imitate the movement of a Dutch skater. This occurred while the airliner was at approximately 32,000 feet altitude.

The pilots are trained to recover from this situation and the plane lands safely in Oakland about an hour later. No injuries were reported among the 175 passengers and six crew members on board.

According to a preliminary FAA report, an inspection after the plane landed showed damage to a unit that provides emergency power to the rudder.

CBS News aviation safety analyst Robert Sumwalt told CBS News senior transportation and national correspondent Kris Van Cleave via email that “any uncontrolled movement of flight controls is potentially significant.” The fact that this resulted in significant damage makes this kind of issue important. »

The FAA said other airlines have not reported similar problems and Southwest said it has not had a similar problem with other Max jets in its fleet.

Van Kleave notes that the affected aircraft was delivered in November 2022 and has therefore been in use for just over a year.

The incident was first reported by The Aviation Herald, which said a temporary repair was made in Oakland and then the plane was “transported” to the Boeing factory in Everett, Washington. for other repairs.

The latest incident comes as the 737 Max remains under close surveillance following a exploding door plug of a brand new Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9, which led to a temporary grounding of this Max version.

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