As Boeing tries to re-fly the Boeing 737 Max aircraft into blue sky, new problems have been found on the plane that far outweighed the software problems in two fatal crashes, the New York Times reported on January 5. Boeing and regulators scrutinized all aspects of the aircraft and identified new potential design flaws.
At the request of the Federal Aviation Administration, boeing conducted an internal audit in December and found that the most pressing problem was a wire problem in the tail of the Boeing 737 Max, a newly discovered problem, according to a senior Boeing executive. Boeing is studying whether the two key lines in the tail of the plane are too close, which could lead to a short circuit.
Boeing has found that a short circuit in two wires near the tail of the plane could have caused the plane to crash. These two wires are connected to the motor that controls the stabilizer, the horizontal fins at the tail of the aircraft, and signal from the flight control computer that the head can be pushed down or up. Boeing’s senior engineers say that once the wires are shorted, if the pilot doesn’t realize the problem and takes quick action, the plane could dive and crash, as was the case with the two crashes caused by the 737 Max’s Mobility Enhancement System (MCAS).
Boeing reportedly notified the Federal Aviation Administration of a potential vulnerability last month. In addition to the 737Max series, it is necessary to investigate whether the 737 NG has the same problem. About 6,800 of these aircraft are currently in service. Boeing is still studying the possibility of a short circuit in the wires and whether it needs to separate the routes already manufactured on the about 800 737 Max aircraft, people familiar with the matter said. Boeing does not want to change the aircraft’s circuits unnecessarily, fearing additional damage during maintenance. Boeing says fixing the problem is relatively simple if needed.
Boeing also notified the Federal Aviation Administration that it had found another quality problem that made the 737 Max’s engine vulnerable to lightning. When the Max passenger plane was assembled, Boeing’s plant in Renton, Washington, flattened the panels on the engine housing for easy installation. But this inadvertently removes the coating that protects the panel from lightning. The Federal Aviation Administration is working on a directive requiring Boeing to restore lightning-proof coatings on engine panels, a problem Boeing is addressing.
The proliferation of new problems presents multiple challenges for Boeing’s leadership. The 737Max is Boeing’s most important aircraft, with about 5,000 orders worldwide. But as the suspensions intensified, Boeing said it would temporarily close its 737 plant, affecting thousands of suppliers. There are reports that Boeing 737 Max could be allowed to test the flight earlier this month, which will be the final test of the aircraft by regulators and one of the last hurdles for regulators to lift a ban on the 737 Max. American Airlines and Southwest Airlines plan to resume commercial flights of the 737 Max in April, and United Airlines plans to resume commercial use of the 737 Max in June.