Air China responds to viral video of loose wing screw on Boeing 737-NG flight

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Air China said it had fixed loose wing screws on one of its passenger aircraft after a video clip of the problematic fairing during flight was shared widely online.

This comes after a passenger on Air China flight CA1921 from Beijing to Hengyang on Thursday noticed that a wing screw on the Boeing 737-NG was loose. He recorded a video and posted it on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

The topic went viral soon, prompting the airline to issue a late-night statement.

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“Air China attached great importance to the loose screws in the inboard canoe fairing of the left flap of Air China flight CA1921 shared on the internet, and immediately inspected the relevant parts of the aircraft, repaired the loose screws, and checked the relevant fleet,” the statement read.

A video clip of the problematic fairing during flight went viral online. Photo: Weibo
A video clip of the problematic fairing during flight went viral online. Photo: Weibo

The part where the screw was located in the inboard canoe fairing of the aircraft is mainly used to regulate the airflow, so as to reduce drag and save fuel. Such screws are used to fix the flap track fairing tail cones, which are a part of the inboard canoe fairing.

There was no official explanation as to why the screw was loose or whether a loosened screw could affect flight safety.

“According to personal maintenance experience, there are two reasons for this problem,” Qiu Qing, an aviation blogger with more than 300,000 followers, posted on Weibo.

“One possibility is that the supporting target in the fairing was broken; another possibility is that the screws were loose due to long-term vibration at this position.”

A close-up of a problematic screw on Air China flight CA1921. Photo: Weibo
A close-up of a problematic screw on Air China flight CA1921. Photo: Weibo

It is acceptable to take off without up to two flap track fairing tail cones, according to the configuration deviation list (CDL) of the Boeing 737-NG.

“It has no impact on safety if one or two screws on the fairing were loose. At the very least, even if there is no fairing, this will not affect safety,” Chen Jianguo, a veteran pilot, told Beijing Youth Daily.

China had a good air safety record for nearly a decade, with more than 100 million straight hours of safe flying by Chinese carriers, until a China Eastern Airlines flight crash in March.

All 132 people on board MU5735 were killed when the Boeing 737-800 plunged from a cruising altitude into a hillside in southern China on March 21. The reason for the crash has yet to be clarified.

China Eastern plane crash data suggests intentional dive, US media report says

China’s Civil Aviation Administration chief has vowed to reflect on all aspects of the deadly crash and step up safety checks with “extreme” vigilance across the industry, repeating an order from President Xi Jinping to investigate all potential safety hazards, for supervisors to be held accountable, and ensure the absolute safety of both aviation operations and people’s lives.

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