Its own press releases have been unsurprisingly positive but Boeing might still be a long time before its beleaguered 737 Max can take flight again. It may be close to getting approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) but it is facing yet another hurdle in Europe. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has a list of changes it wants Boeing to make and one of them is reportedly about its autopilot system.
The two fatal crashes involving the Boeing 737 Max have largely been blamed on the new Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS. That system has been the core focus of the FAA’s investigations and Boeing’s own fixes. By large, the EASA’s requirements also touch on those problems but adds one that could blindside Boeing’s efforts.
According to Bloomberg’s source, the European agency has concerns about the plane’s autopilot system. To be specific, it is concerned that the autopilot doesn’t disengage in certain certain situations, which means it would be difficult if not impossible for pilots to take action before the plane stalls. This concern has not been raised by the FAA, at least not publicly.
If Boeing is required to make significant changes to the 737 Max’s autopilot system, it could strike a huge blow to the plane maker’s hopes of returning the aircraft to service as soon as possible. That might not be possible anyway considering a new bug in the plane’s microprocessor that was discovered just last week. Boeing initially expected that the 737 Max will fly again in September.
Neither the EASA nor the FAA have confirmed the leak but the FAA explains that it is in constant communication with other regulatory bodies during the course of its investigation. The FAA itself is also under fire for its initial investigation of the new plane.