A new software glitch on Boeing Co.’s grounded 737 Max must be repaired before the aircraft can be cleared for service, raising concerns whether the planes will be back in service by Boeing’s mid-2020 timeline.
The problem involves the stabilizer trim system indicator light, which “had been staying on for longer than a desired period,” Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Steve Dickson said. The stabilizer trim helps raise and lower the nose of the aircraft. Dickson had previously said a certification flight for the troubled 737 Max could happen within a few weeks, before Bloomberg News broke the news about the software issue.
Boeing’s 737 Max planes were grounded globally last March after two crashes that combined killed a total of 347 people. Both crashes, operated by Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines, were linked to a software issue that inadvertently sent the planes into a nosedive shortly after takeoff. The FAA required the jets to undergo a safety audit before they would be recertified and allowed to fly again.
Boeing had been hopeful to have the 737 Max back up and running by the end of 2019, but regulators uncovered other problems related to the software at the center of the crash investigations. The investigations also revealed internal communications among Boeing employees that raised red flags about the 737 Max. At least two employees reportedly said they would not allow their own families to fly on the jets.
Last month, after a series of missed deadlines and other setbacks, Boeing announced it was once again pushing back its timeline for getting its 737 Max jets in service. The mid-2020 timeline allows for extra time in the event of new issues.
Beasley Allen lawyer Mike Andrews focuses much of his practice on aviation litigation and currently represents families of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 victims. In addition to his Ethiopian Airlines crash clients, Mike has represented people seriously injured in a variety of aviation crashes, and the families of those killed in both civilian and military airplane crashes and helicopter crashes.