Federal agencies probe rolling motion of Southwest Airlines Boeing 737

18 Jun 2024

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Federal officials announced June 13 that they are investigating an unusual rolling motion experienced by a Southwest Airlines Boeing 737 Max, potentially linked to a damaged backup power-control unit.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is collaborating with Boeing and the National Transportation Safety Board to examine the incident on May 25 during a flight from Phoenix to Oakland, California.

According to the FAA, the aircraft experienced a “Dutch roll,” a phenomenon where the plane exhibits a yawing motion, causing the tail to slide while the plane rocks from wingtip to wingtip. This motion is named after the characteristic movement of Dutch ice skaters.

Pilots are trained to manage and recover from such conditions, and the Southwest flight safely landed in Oakland. No injuries were reported among the 175 passengers and six crew members on board.

An inspection conducted after the plane’s landing revealed damage to a unit responsible for providing backup power to the rudder. The FAA’s preliminary report indicated this could have been the cause of the unusual rolling motion.

The FAA stated that no similar issues have been reported by other airlines.