A newly discovered glitch is likely to push back the return of Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft to operation. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a statement on the new glitch on its official Twitter account Wednesday.
“The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is following a thorough process, not a prescribed timeline, for returning the Boeing 737 Max to passenger service,” the organization said. “The FAA will lift the aircraft’s prohibition order when we deem it is safe to do so. We continue to evaluate Boeing’s software modification to the MCAS and we are still developing necessary training requirements. We also are responding to recommendations received from the Technical Advisory Board. The TAB is an independent review panel we have asked to review our work regarding 737 Max return to service. 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.”
While the FAA did not release details on the nature of the glitch, two sources familiar with the matter told the Associated Press (via The Los Angeles Times) that a flaw in the aircraft’s updated software could result in the plane’s nose pitching down. A fix could involve either software changes or changing a processor in the airplane’s flight control system, with the setback likely to delay the 737 Max’s return to service by an additional one to three months. United Airlines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have all cancelled flights involving the aircraft into September.
An analysis by Reuters noted that, even after the plane is cleared for service, pilots will need to undergo training that could take at least one month.
The move comes soon after a new controversy over a pair of investigations into the process by which the plane was initially certified for service in the United States. Bloomberg reported that the evaluation of the aircraft’s fitness to fly again will not depend on the outcome of the investigations, a move that has prompted some critics to call too hasty.