Boeing Co. told the US Federal Aviation Administration that it does not believe it should separate or move wiring bundles on its grounded 737 MAX jetliner that regulators have warned they could short-circuit with catastrophic consequences.
The FAA confirmed on Friday that it had received a proposal from the planemaker regarding the wiring problem.
The FAA will “thoroughly evaluate Boeing’s proposal for a recently discovered 737 MAX wiring problem. The manufacturer must demonstrate compliance with all certification standards,” the agency said in a statement.
The American plan maker and FAA only said at the beginning of January that they were investigating a wiring problem that could potentially cause a short circuit on the 737 MAX and could, under certain circumstances, cause a crash if pilots did not respond on time.
A Boeing spokesperson referred all the wiring questions to the FAA and said that the agency would make the final decision and that the company would answer questions from the FAA.
Boeing’s 737 MAX was grounded worldwide last March after two crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people within five months.
Boeing has spent months updating the maternity prevention software called MCAS, linked to both crashes, but new issues have come to light, making it difficult for regulators to re-approve the aircraft.
Given the intensive control of the 737 MAX, Boeing will certainly be confronted with questions about whether the MCAS system makes it more difficult for pilots to respond in the event of a short circuit.
There are more than a dozen different locations on the 737 MAX where wiring bundles may be too close together. Most locations are located under the cockpit in an electrical compartment.
If the bundles pose a potential hazard, the regulations would usually require the bundles to be separated or a physical barrier added.
Boeing has noted in conversations with the FAA that the same wiring bundles are in the 737 NG, which has been in service since 1997 and has registered 205 million flight hours without wiring problems.
New wiring safety rules were adopted in the aftermath of the Swiss Air 111 crash in 1998.
A company official told Reuters last month that Boeing had been working on a design that would separate the wiring bundles if necessary. However, moving the bundles may lead to further delays in the return of the MAX and Reuters reported on Thursday that an important test flight with certification was not expected until April or later.
Three US airlines reduced the resumption of 737 MAX flights this week from June to August or later. Boeing has estimated that US officials would lift a safety ban for the aircraft mid-year.
It is unclear whether the European Union Aviation Safety Agency will require the MAX wiring bundles to be separated. An office spokeswoman said on Thursday that regulators “waited for additional information from Boeing.”
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