A potential flaw in the yet-to-be relaunched Boeing 737 Max has been identified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the USA’s flight regulation body.
The aircraft was grounded by regulators and airlines across the world, after a second crash involving the model in March 2019 which killed Canadian-based Nigerian professor, Pius Adesanmi.
The FAA, which was one of the last to ground the 737 Max model, said in a tweet that it uncovered a ‘potential risk’ during a simulation test.
"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 tweet said without giving substantial detail.
A source, however, told the BBC, "During simulator testing last week at Boeing, FAA test pilots discovered an issue that affected their ability to quickly and easily follow the required recovery procedures for runaway stabilizer trim (that is, to stop stabilizers on the aircraft's tail moving uncontrollably)."
Preliminary reports from the two crashes revealed that software in the plane’s control system forced the craft downward despite the best effort of the pilots to gain altitude. In responding to the hesitant directive of the FAA that all 371 737 Max crafts currently in operation be grounded, Boeing had said, “Boeing continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX. However, after consultation with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and aviation authorities and its customers around the world, Boeing has determined — out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft’s safety, to recommend to the FAA the temporary suspension of operations of the entire global fleet of 371 737 MAX aircraft.”
An FAA approval for the recommencement of flying the fated model was slated for late June with tests flights expected in July.
This was however pushed to later in the year. With the new ‘potential risk,’ it is no longer certain if the 737 Max craft will lift off a runway in 2019.
Experts have identified a software glitch and poor documentation as the twin engines that powered down the aircraft. A third, however, is the promptness of the FAA to certify the craft without checking out for these errors, considering that a similar documentation mistake had been made with the McDonnell Douglas MD-11, which first flew in 1990, as well as its resistance to ground the craft after the whole world had done so. Boeing had received over 5,000orders after it launched the 737 Max.
It had procured exoskeleton suits to keep its workers working for longer hours, in order to meet up with demand and gain more market share over its perennial rival, Airbus.