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The Boeing 737 Max was grounded after an in-flight incident involving Dutch Roll

A Boeing 737 Max has been grounded since May 25 after an in-flight incident prompted an investigation by officials. The Southwest Airlines plane, en route from Phoenix to Oakland, experienced a rare but potentially serious problem known as a “Dutch roll.” This phenomenon involves the aircraft rocking from side to side and changing yaw, or the direction the nose is facing, simultaneously, creating a horizontal figure-eight pattern. This can be extremely unsettling for passengers and has been implicated in past accidents where pilots were unable to regain control of the aircraft.

Pilots are trained to counteract a Dutch roll, and modern airplanes are equipped with a system called a yaw damper to prevent this. Fortunately, in the case of the Southwest incident, the pilots were able to regain control of the 737 Max. A post-flight inspection revealed damage to the Standby Power Control Unit (PCU), which controls the rudder. No injuries were reported.

After the incident, the plane, which is less than two years old, remained in Oakland for 12 days. It then moved to Everett, Washington, where Southwest has a maintenance facility. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently investigating the cause of the incident.

This event adds to ongoing challenges for Boeing, which has come under scrutiny after two crashes involving the 737 Max in 2018 and 2019, which resulted in a combined total of 346 fatalities. In addition, the company faced a crisis earlier this year after an incident involving a 737 Max operated by Alaska Airlines. Boeing directed inquiries about the recent incident to Southwest Airlines, which has yet to respond.

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