A NEW software problem has been found in the troubled Boeing 737 Max that could push the plane’s nose down automatically, and fixing the flaw is almost certain to further delay the plane’s return to flying after two deadly crashes.
Boeing said on Wednesday that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) “identified an additional requirement” for software changes that the aircraft manufacturer has been working on for eight months, since shortly after the first crash.
“Boeing agrees with the FAA’s decision and request, and is working on the required software to address the FAA’s request,” Boeing said in a statement.
Government test pilots trying out Boeing’s updated Max software in a flight simulator last week found a flaw that could result in the plane’s nose pitching down, according to two people familiar with the matter. In both Max crashes, the plane’s flight-control software pushed the nose down based on faulty readings from one sensor.
The people said fixing the issue might be accomplished through software changes or by replacing a microprocessor in the plane’s flight-control system.
One said the latest setback is likely to delay the plane’s return to service by an extra one to three months.
Both spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss aspects of the review process that are not public.
In a statement, the FAA said it will lift its grounding of the plane only when it deems the jet safe — there is no set timeline.
“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 agency said. – AP