FAA and Boeing confirmed yesterday that they were reviewing a « potentially catastrophic » wiring problem on the Boeing 737 MAX, which could delay further re-certification of re-engineered single-aisle aircraft. On the training side, the civil aviation authority is leaning more and more towards a compulsory passage in a pilot simulator.
Last December, former FAA engineer Michael Collins described to Congress how « at least 18 regulator experts » concluded, as MAX certification approached, that Boeing should modify the cables for the legacy stabilizer controls. ‘a 1960s device to improve redundancy – before being contradicted by an FAA manager in Seattle. The New York Times confirmed on Sunday that the regulator last month asked Boeing for a key system security audit « in light of new assumptions about pilot response times in the event of an emergency. » In this particular case, two bundles of cables (connected to the stabilizer motor) were found to be too close to each other, which could potentially cause a short circuit and cause a crash if the pilots did not respond properly. According to the daily, Boeing is still trying to determine if this could happen in flight – in which case it would be necessary to modify the nearly 800 Boeing 737 MAX already assembled; the solution would be « relatively simple » and take between one and two hours, say NYT sources. Other protections such as shielding, insulation or circuit breakers may prevent the short circuit, said a company official.
Boeing spokesman Gordon Johndroe said yesterday that the aircraft manufacturer had identified this problem « as part of this rigorous process, and we are working with the FAA to perform the appropriate analysis. » It would be premature to speculate on whether this analysis will lead to design changes. ” The question of whether the same modifications will be necessary for the approximately 6,800,737 NGs in service remains open.