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Boeing hit with another concern on its 737 Max aircraft

At the end of the day, pilots, Boeing builders, and consumers still need to feel safe

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We’re only days into the new year, but Boeing’s already wishing 2020 would go away.

While the aircraft manufacturer thought it was finally out of the woods with all the problems it’s faced with its 737 Max, new issues with the jet have been raised.

Before the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would allow Boeing to put the Max back in the air, it asked the company to conduct a tooth-and-comb audit to make sure that it had sufficiently gone over the finer details of how long it could take a pilot behind the wheel of a Max to respond to emergencies, according to a senior engineer at Boeing as well as other people familiar with the situation.

Uncovered in Boeing’s latest inspection was a possible issue with the wiring that helps control the tail of the aircraft -- one that could cause a short-circuit and lead to a crash if pilots didn’t respond to the problem correctly and in time. 

The determining factor here is whether the scenario is likely and, if it is, what Boeing would have to do to keep it from happening in real life. If all it has to do is separate the wires, Boeing says that’s a relatively easy task, and it appeared ready to do that on all the hundreds of 737 Max already built.

Boeing can’t afford to get it wrong… again

Since 346 people died in 737 Max crashes, Boeing has bled money profusely -- to the tune of billions per day. Any further detours would certainly add more financial misery, not to mention loss of consumer trust and raised eyebrows at the FAA.

“There are the human elements,” Peter Morris, chief economist at aviation consultancy Ascend/FlightGlobal, told the BBC. “The pilots and crew understand far more of the deep technical issues and will be understandably vociferous about the absolute integrity of the revised hardware, software and procedures. In the light of the evidence to date, they are likely to be very critical and need significant reassurance and explanation.”

“While many passengers probably do not recognise their aircraft type, events like this inevitably get people talking. Any further incidents, even if slightly related to these issues, would be utterly disastrous for public opinion and really shake trust in aviation safety.”

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