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Perspective - Carolyn CorviLast September, we announced three enhancements to the 737 rudder system as the result of work carried out for several years by Boeing, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, and the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. These enhancements should be taken in context: After more than 100 million flight-hours, the 737 family has proved itself among the safest and most reliable of all airplanes. Its safety record is twice as good as the average of the worldwide commercial jet fleet.

However, even this fine airplane can be enhanced, so we are simplifying flight crew procedures, increasing maintenance oversight, and modifying the rudder control system. The simplified flight crew procedures will have been implemented by the time you read this issue of Aero, and the enhanced maintenance regimen for Classic 737s will be implemented early in 2001. We expect the enhanced rudder power control unit (PCU) to be incorporated into production airplanes in mid-2003; our current plan is to have retrofit kits available in the third or fourth quarter of that year.

While the existing PCU is redundant and has proved itself reliable, we have developed a new concept that eliminates the dual concentric valve that has been the subject of concerns in the past. It makes a major change to the system; however, the enhanced PCU is based on proven technology, will fit within the existing airplane structure, and will be relatively simple to retrofit. With this enhancement, the 737 rudder system essentially will be functionally equivalent to the 757 system.









All of this was discussed in detail at an all-operators meeting in Seattle last October, but I want to add my personal assurance that we will employ a true working-together approach to the PCU enhancement. With no immediate safety issue, there is no rush to modify the rudder and so we are going to proceed very methodically, making sure the system is robust and thoroughly tested before it enters service. We will keep you informed as we proceed with the design, fabrication, and testing of the new PCU, and will continue to solicit your input regarding the retrofit program.

A 737 takes off or lands somewhere in the world every 5.5 seconds, and about 1,000 are in the air at any given time, day or night. This is a remarkable record, set by a remarkable family of airplanes. I look forward to working with you to carry this record far into the future.

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