The comeback date for Boeing 737 Max planes which had earlier been slated for late 2019, may really not be visible after all. This is because regulators in the United States have found a new flaw which could further delay re-certification.
After Boeing reportedly fixed the initial MCAS faulty system on its 737 Max planes, Government pilots were said to have detected yet another fault – a microprocessor failure. This happened during simulator tests, which are usually carried out as a replica to a plane’s cockpit for the training of pilots.
The MCAS was initially labelled as the main reason both the Lion Air flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed and killed 346 people. The MCAS reportedly caused both planes to nosedive with pilots on both planes unable to prevent them from crashing after losing control.
About the new-discovered flaw: The new flaw has to also do with the stabilization system. Failure of the microprocessor could push the nose of the plane toward the ground, a situation that could potentially cause another plane to crash. The Government pilots were unable to recover and stabilise the microprocessor in the simulators.
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According to people familiar with the test runs, “It was difficult for the test pilots to recover in a matter of seconds. And if you can’t recover in a matter of seconds, that’s an unreasonable risk.”
After the two crashes that led to the global ban of Boeing 737 Max planes, the company promised to develop a software fix that would limit the potency of that stabilization system. The progress has now been hit by this latest discovery.
In order to solve the new flaw, Boeing engineers are considering reprogramming the software to fix the microprocessor issue, with an option of replacing the physical microprocessors on each 737 Max aircraft if need be.
While addressing the safety level of the plane, the company said it will not be offering the Boeing 737 Max planes for certification until it’s certain that all safety requirements have. This is especially pertinent after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) identified the flaw that needed to be addressed.
FAA and Boeing are considering a computer-based test to train 737 Max pilots on the Max system. The training could be done quickly on the iPad, although pilots have advised against it, saying simulator and iPad are quite different. To this end, the FAA is said to be considering the simulator as well, even though it is time-consuming and expensive.
In the meantime, the FAA boss has disclosed that the aviation regulator is in no rush to return Boeing 737 Max to service. As a matter of fact, the FAA is willing to wait a full year to ensure that all safety measures are perfect. Note that the delay of re-certification had earlier been blamed on politics between several countries’ regulators.