Despite being grounded after its faulty planes caused 346 deaths, Boeing's 737 Max doesn’t seem to be anywhere near the end of its problems. A new error has been discovered by Boeing in the aircraft. In order to take off again, Boeing has to get approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The FAA, however, asked the airplane manufacturer to audit key systems in the aircraft after new system and faulty sensors were implicated to be the cause behind two crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed 346 people.
During the audit, the New York Times reported, Boeing found bundles of electrical wires too close to each other, heightening the risk of short circuits which could cause pilots to lose control of the plane. Talking to Associated Press, Boeing spokesperson Gordon Johndroe said that the manufacturer was working with the FAA to appropriately analyse the issue. However, Boeing added that it was too soon to make design changes in the aircraft to correct the problem. The manufacturer further said that installing circuit breakers and insulating the wires could be an effective solution.
Boeing has just finished making changes to MCAS, which is a key software used in its aircraft. In both the crashes, the MCAS was triggered by faulty sensors and pushed the noses of the plane down, a stance that FAA calls the runaway stabilizer.
According to the New York Times report, the bundles of wire found to be in close proximity connect to the motor controlling the stabilizer. Therefore, the new question is whether it could also cause runaway stabilizer due to a short circuit. The report quoted a senior Boeing engineer as saying that if in such an instance, a pilot does not take immediate action, the plane could nosedive, not unlike the two crashes caused by faulty MCAS software.
For over a year, the manufacturer has been working on the software, which was partly designed to avoid aerodynamic stalls causing the plane to fall. Boeing is making it less powerful and as a precautionary measure, linking it to two sensors instead of only one.
Apart from this, according to a Bloomberg report, during a simulator test in June, FAA pilots found that data processing by the computers installed in the aircraft could cause the plane to dive. Moreover, during the simulator tests, pilots found it difficult to recover from the dive. Due to these issues, it is unclear when Boeing 737 Max would be cleared to fly. FAA spokesperson said it had no timeline to review the aircraft.
As many as 400 Max planes were grounded after the two crashes, while the manufacturing of another 400 had finished but they were not delivered to the airlines.
FAA is also unclear on whether it should require pilots of Max to train on simulators before flying the planes. If it decides to do so, this would cause another delay in the flight of the aircraft.