The FAA has been trying to get other countries on board with re-certifying the Boeing 737 MAX. Some industry leaders, such as American Airlines CEO Doug Parker, are so confident and ready to see the plane back in the skies that they attribute delay to political gamesmanship.
However one new wrinkle has been uncovered in Boeing’s quest to have the aircraft re-certified.
Reportedly “[d]uring 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 stabiliser trim.” A microprocessor failure has been discovered to be able to trigger the MCAS system and in tests pilots haven’t been able to quickly recover from such a failure.
The FAA confirms identifying “a potential risk that Boeing must mitigate” apparently related to how the flight computer processes data and creates problems when pilots following the recommended runaway stabilizer procedure in response to mistaken activation of the MCAS (manoeuvring characteristics augmentation system), the software which has been implicated in the Ethiopian and Lion Air MAX crashes.
It remains to be seen whether a software fix can address the microprocessor problem or whether the processors themselves will need to be replaced.