No more B737 rudder problems?

Date:         30 Mar 99 01:53:48 
From: (John Hilt)
Organization: Telenor Online Public Access
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Is this the final fix? Have we see the last of Boeing 737 rudder kicks?
Let's hope so.

 APA 35-99
 March 18, 1999
 Contact: Les Dorr, Jr.
 Phone: 202-267-8521

 FAA Progress Report on Boeing 737 Rudder PCU Retrofits

 Washington -- In response to a Federal Aviation Administration
 (FAA) order to improve the already high safety record of the
 Boeing 737, close to 50 percent of the aircraft subject to the order
 now have new rudder power control units (PCUs).

 In addition, Boeing 737-600, -700 and -800 models are already
 manufactured with a redesigned unit, so almost 60 percent of the
 nation's 737 fleet now carries the new equipment.

 The redesigned PCU eliminates the possibility of a  "rudder
 reversal" -- movement of the rudder opposite to what the crew
 intended -- by making reversal mechanically impossible.  The
 FAA's latest figures, from March 1, show that 484 of 1025
 U.S.-registered Boeing 737-100 through -500 models had received
 the new unit.

 "We are urging industry to continue making progress in complying
 with the FAA's mandate," said FAA Administrator Jane F. Garvey.
 "We have no plans to extend our August deadline."

 The FAA ordered installation of the new PCUs in June 1997 as the
 result of data from the National Transportation Safety Board's
 investigations of Boeing 737 accidents at Pittsburgh (1994) and
 Colorado Springs, Colo. (1991). The PCU redesign makes rudder
 reversal a mechanical impossibility.

 All 737s must have the new unit installed by Aug. 4, 1999. Until
 then, all older-model PCUs are checked by flight crews every 250
 flight hours (about once a month) to ensure they are functioning

 In addition to the redesigned PCU installation, the agency has
 ordered installation of a device that limits the amount of rudder
 movement during flight, making the aircraft more controllable in
 the event of an upset. The FAA also is requiring operators to
 install a new, more reliable digital yaw damper, a device that
 increases ride comfort by making small rudder inputs to cancel
 side-to-side motions. All 737s must have the new equipment by
 August 2000.

 The FAA also has worked extensively with industry to enhance
 pilot training and awareness of possible in-flight upsets caused by
 uncommanded rudder inputs.  In January 1997, the FAA mandated
 new flight procedures and training to help pilots recognize and
 respond correctly to unusual aircraft attitudes. U.S. air carriers
 have already incorporated these initiatives into their operations
 and training programs.

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        - JH -

"Balls" said the queen, "If I had them, I'd be king."