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FAA Orders Inspection Of Boeing 737s

An American Airlines 737-800 aircraft in January. The 737-800 is one of several variants the FAA has ordered to be inspected.

Federal aviation officials have ordered that more than 1,000 Boeing 737s be examined to see if a key part on the plane's tail section needs to be replaced, The Wall Street Journal reported Monday.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued the airworthiness directive for a pin that holds the 737's horizontal stabilizer to the rest of the tail, to see if it is in danger of failing prematurely. The horizontal stabilizer -- also known as the tail plane -- enables the pilot to control the aircraft's pitch.

The FAA said the inspection was "prompted by reports of an incorrect procedure used to apply the wear and corrosion protective surface coating to attach pins of the horizontal stabilizer rear spar."

The agency says the directive affects 1,050 planes flown by U.S. carriers and could cost nearly $10,000 per aircraft.

The WSJ reports that newer versions of the 737, which is the world's most widely used passenger aircraft, are most at risk for the defect. So far, the potentially defective part has not caused any accidents, the paper says.

Airlines have until late May before the inspections begin, and have various compliance times based on the age of the aircraft and other factors, the newspaper says.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit www.npr.org.

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