Boeing engineers have reportedly discovered another flaw in the 737 MAX jet, which was grounded early last year after two fatal crashes.
The aircraft manufacturer said that it had identified an issue involving two bundles of wiring, which control the aircraft’s tail, as part of a “rigorous” inspection process.
According to media reports, engineers found that the wiring had been installed close enough together to be at threat of causing a short circuit, which risked sending the plane out of control.
Boeing is now reportedly “working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to perform the appropriate analysis”. According to The Australian, the company has not decided whether any change is required in the aircraft’s design.
This latest blow comes not long after Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg resigned amid the 737 MAX drama.
Boeing reverses position on the need for simulator training
Boeing on Tuesday said that it is “recommending 737 MAX simulator training in addition to computer-based training for all MAX pilots” prior to the jet’s return to service.
The manufacturer’s statement comes in spite of long maintaining that simulator training was not needed by pilots to fly the plane, one of its main drawcards as a cost-saver for airlines.
Moreover, Southwest Airlines, which has ordered 280 737 Max jets, reportedly made its first order in 2011 based on the promise that the airline wouldn’t have to educate its pilots on simulators, by Boeing. In initial negotiations with Southwest during the development of the jet, Boeing reportedly agreed that if training was required, it would give the carrier a discount of US$1 million per jet.
According to The New York Times, the decision stems from Boeing’s analysis of recent flight simulator tests. These were reportedly part of the work necessary to return the Max to service, which showed that pilots were not using the right procedures to handle emergencies.
“Safety is Boeing’s top priority,” interim Boeing CEO Greg Smith said.
“Public, customer and stakeholder confidence in the 737 MAX is critically important to us and with that focus Boeing has decided to recommend MAX simulator training combined with computer-based training for all pilots prior to returning the MAX safely to service.”
The aircraft manufacturer has also confirmed the reassignment of 3,000 workers, as it halts the production of the 737 MAX, the possibility of which was announced in December.
Most of these employees reportedly work at Boeing’s Renton, Washington plant where the 737 Max is manufactured. Others are at Boeing’s South Carolina operations facility.