The Federal Aviation Administration is ordering inspections of the Boeing 767, one of the aircraft maker's most popular commercial jets, to check for problems that it says could cause loss of control of the planes.
The problem being cited is something that the FAA and Boeing have been looking into since 2000, and the planes have already been subject to earlier inspections.
But the FAA, in a notice in the Federal Register on Monday, said it has determined that potential problems with rivets could cause "failures or jams" that affect the plane's ability to climb or descend. The failure could result in "possible loss of control of the airplane," the FAA said.
The problem has not been cited as a cause in any crash of a 767, which is one of the most widely-used Boeing jets. Boeing has delivered 1,061 of the long-range, widebody planes since it went into service in 1982.
Some of the airlines objected to the proposed FAA action. United Continental ( filed comments arguing that previous inspections ordered by the FAA, along with service bulletins from Boeing, have addressed the risks being cited by the FAA in its new order. But the FAA rejected that argument. )
Boeing ( said it is working closely with the FAA on potential safety issues. "This is an ongoing and continuous process," it said. )
The order takes effect March 3, but the airlines have six years to comply. Since the upgrade was made available to carriers in 2007, many airlines have already replaced the relevant part. After the fix is made, airlines must perform follow up inspections within 6,000 flight hours of that fix for each aircraft.