(CMR) As Boeing attempts to get the 737 Max back in operation yet another issue has been discovered that will likely delays the troubled planes return. The company and regulators have now discovered additions designed flaw in the plane’s tail.
In addition, Boeing also recently told the F.A.A. that it had discovered a manufacturing problem that left the plane’s engines vulnerable to a lightning strike.
While assembling the Max, workers at Boeing’s Renton, Wash., factory had ground down the outer shell of a panel that sits atop the engine housing in an effort to ensure a better fit into the plane. In doing so, they inadvertently removed the coating that insulates the panel from a lightning strike, taking away a crucial protection for the fuel tank and fuel lines. The F.A.A. is developing a directive that will require the company to restore lightning protection to the engine panel and Boeing is already in the process of resolving the issue.
According to international news sources at the request of the Federal Aviation Administration, Boeing conducted an internal audit in December to determine whether it had accurately assessed the dangers of key systems given new assumptions about how long it might take pilots to respond to emergencies, according to a senior engineer at Boeing and three people familiar with the matter.
The company is looking at whether two bundles of critical wiring are too close together and could cause a short circuit. A short in that area could lead to a crash if pilots did not respond correctly, the people said. Boeing is still trying to determine whether that scenario could actually occur on a flight and, if so, whether it would need to separate the wire bundles in the roughly 800 Max jets that have already been built. The company says that the fix, if needed, is relatively simple.
The company informed the F.A.A. about the potential vulnerability last month, and Boeing’s new chief executive discussed possible changes to the wiring on an internal conference call last week, according to one of the people and the Boeing engineer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
The company may eventually need to look into whether the same problem exists on the 737 NG, the predecessor to the Max. There are currently about 6,800 of those planes in service.
Last month Boeing fired its CEO.
Caymanian Airways remains mum on its plans regarding the Max 8.