Boeing has uncovered a new problem with the 737 Max, raising the possibility it could further delay the grounded jetliner's return to the air.
The new problem, disclosed Friday, involves a feature of the flight computer.
The trouble can occur as the flight computer is powered up. Software is supposed to be able to check on itself to make the system is glitch-free. If it detects a problem, it sends a message saying maintenance is required. But it was found that one of these monitors wasn't kicking in as it should.
Boeing is hoping it can fix the latest problem and at least two others that it has acknowledged, meaning it would add little or no time to the task of trying to get the 737 Max re-certified to carry passengers. At present, major operators of the 737 Max have pushed it's expected return back to June, though some observers think that time frame is optimistic.
The flight-computer problem was discovered in the later stages of development of a new software package. But the issue also represents another challenge on a long to-do list as the first anniversary of the plane's grounding looms in a little more than a month.
Boeing issued a statement saying it's doing its best to take care of the problem.
“We are making necessary updates and working with the FAA on submission of this change, and keeping our customers and suppliers informed. Our highest priority is ensuring the 737 MAX is safe and meets all regulatory requirements before it returns to service,” the aerospace giant said.
Though it involves software and the flight computer, the problem is different than the one blamed as a key factor of the 737 Max crashes of Lion Air in 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines last year. In those accidents, which cost a total of 346 lives, a system added to the Max called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, repeatedly overrode pilots' efforts to keep their planes airborne by pointing their noses downward.
Boeing has proposed a number of safeguards to make sure that pilots can easily switch off MCAS and take control of the aircraft. The MCAS redesign along with its approval by the FAA is taking months longer than Boeing has anticipated. The new problems are being discovered along the way.
Besides revising the MCAS software and the new flight computer issue, it was disclosed earlier this month that a pair of wiring bundles in the rear of the aircraft were deemed to be too close together, raising the possibility of a short circuit.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 737 Max: Will new problem add to the delay?