Regulator says B737 conversions can fly with loading restrictions

Israel’s aviation regulator has ordered airlines with Boeing 737 jets converted to freighters by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to comply with loading restrictions and use additional straps when needed before they can resume flying, according to Reuters.

Its directive, published as an emergency airworthiness directive on the European Union Aviation Safety Agency website on Thursday, relates to 47 cargo planes that were grounded this week after IAI found an “apparent irregularity” in the production process of the rigid barrier that separates freight from the cockpit.

IAI has not made public the list of airlines operating the affected planes, but both Qantas and Alaska Air Cargo announced they were grounding their IAI conversions. Qantas took four 737-300s on domestic routes out of service and Alaska said it was grounding 737-700s and temporarily “implementing a plan to provide freighter service by utilising 737-800 and 737-900 passenger planes”, although it meant ULD service was “temporarily unavailable to, from, or within the state of Alaska”.

IAI had earlier advised customers that the barrier serves as an additional safety feature to separate the cockpit from the cargo and is not critical to flight safety.

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