US FAA Discovers New Flaw in Boeing’s 737 Max Jets
On Wednesday, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said that it had found another issue with Boeing’s 737 Max 8, a problematic jet model that has already been involved in two crashes that killed 346 people in total.
Boeing saw its stock price declining by over 3% on Thursday. The FAA discovered the problem last week while performing a flight simulator test, according to Reuters. The bad news is that these flaws are different from the issues that might have caused the two crashes in the last year.
The Nature of The Flaw is Still Unclear
Sources familiar with the matter didn’t specify the nature of the risk. Thus, it is not clear if the problem can be fixed with a software upgrade or needs a more sophisticated approach, including hardware fix. However, CNN found that a risk is associated with the computer system that might force the aeroplane’s nose down.
The FAA confirmed that it had discovered a new flaw in Boeing’s 737 Max 8 jets. The agency revealed that an independent review panel called the Technical Advisory Board was supervising its effort to restore the jet’s service.
The 737 Max jets have been already grounded by the FAA due to potential problems with their software system called Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). Now the FAA will prolong the prohibition until the planes have all the systems restored properly. The agency told Reuters:
On the most recent issue, the FAA’s process is designed to discover and highlight potential risks. The FAA recently found a potential risk that Boeing must mitigate. The FAA will lift the aircraft’s prohibition order when we deem it is safe to do so.
International Air Transport Association Calls For Coordination of FAA’s Effort
Besides the FAA’s new findings, Boeing is under increased pressure after the International Air Transport Association (IATA) called the US planemaker on coordinating the pilot training of 737 Max for all regulators and airlines worldwide. The international organisation asks for an “alignment on additional training requirements for Boeing 737 MAX flight crew.” While IATA doesn’t openly admit a distrust of the FAA, it stated that American regulators should collaborate with international counterparties, as “aviation cannot function efficiently without this coordinated effort.”
The statement came after IATA’s summit in Montreal, Canada, which was dedicated to the 737 Max jet model. The event gathered executives of more than 40 airlines, regulators and other parties.
IATA CEO and Director General Alexandre de Juniac commented:
The Boeing 737 MAX tragedies weigh heavily on an industry that holds safety as its top priority. Aviation is a globally integrated system that relies on global standards, including mutual recognition, trust, and reciprocity among safety regulators.
The US aviation giant has been under tight scrutiny after it saw two of its 737 Max 8 jets crashed in a span of several months. The first accident involved a Lion Air plane that crashed in Indonesia last October, killing all 189 people on board. Five months later, another plane of the same model crashed in Ethiopia. Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 had 157 people on board, and everyone died.
Investigators believe that the jet’s anti-stall system and a design issue in its flight simulator software are to blame in both cases. As of today, all 737 Max planes are grounded until the FAA makes sure all the flaws are fixed.
Last week, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg told the media at the Paris Airshow that he hoped the jets would be ready to fly by the end of this year. However, the FAA revealed it hadn’t any “prescribed timeline.” The agency noted:
The [FAA] is following a thorough process, not a prescribed timeline, for returning the Boeing 737 MAX to passenger service. The FAA will lift the aircraft’s prohibition order when we deem it is safe to do so.
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