New Boeing 737 MAX flaw revealed during simulator tests
In the midst of the investigation into the Boeing crashes, a new flaw has been discovered that paints a better picture of the 737 MAX safety issues.
Two sources familiar with the testing told CNN that a flaw in the computer system could potentially push the nose of the plane downward. The flaw was discovered during simulator tests and is the result of microprocessor failure, though it’s not certain if this failure is what led to the two crashes in 2018 and 2019.
One of the sources told CNN that “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.” The next step for engineers is to find a fix that would potentially reprogram the associated software or replace the microprocessors on each 737 MAX.
A total of 189 people died in a Lion Air crash out of Indonesia on Oct. 29, 2018, when the plane nose-dived into the ocean. A total of 157 people died in a similar crash in Ethiopia. Like the Indonesian crash, the pilot of the plane in Ethiopia sent a distress call shortly after takeoff.
In response to the new report, Boeing stated that “The safety of our airplanes is Boeing’s highest priority. During the FAA’s review of the 737 MAX software update and recent simulator sessions, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) identified an additional requirement that it has asked the company to address through the software changes that the company has been developing for the past eight months.”
“Boeing will not offer the 737 MAX for certification by the FAA until we have satisfied all requirements for certification of the MAX and its safe return to service.”
Along with finding a fix, Boeing and the FAA are also looking into additional training for 737 MAX pilots, and determining whether this will involve more simulator time. Boeing had previously proposed additional training to be completed quickly using an iPad, but both pilot unions and “Miracle on the Hudson” hero Chelsey Sullenberger criticized such an approach as inadequate to pilot training.
“The FAA will lift the aircraft’s prohibition order when we deem it is safe to do so. We continue to evaluate Boeing’s software modification to the MCAS and we are still developing necessary training requirements,” a FAA spokesperson said.