Boeing MAX return to service estimate unchanged by wires

March 09, 2020
Southwest Airlines 737 MAX aircraft at Victorville, California. Image: KCAL9.

Boeing does not expect an ongoing issue about wiring bundles in its 737 MAX to delay the aircraft’s return to service.

US media reports say the US Federal Aviation Administration is poised to order Boeing to relocate wiring bundles it believes violate safety standards intended to prevent a short circuit.

Boeing has argued that the wiring design meets current safety standards and that the risk of a short circuit is remote. The same wiring bundles have been in the Boeing 737 NG  for years without a serious issue.

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The issue was raised by technical staff at the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and the FAA amid fears that in a worst-case scenario a short circuit could lead to a crash.

Despite its opposition to a change, CNBC reported that Boeing had submitted an initial recommendation to the FAA about how to resolve the issue.

The FAA said it would “rigorously evaluate” Boeing’s proposal on the wiring.

“The manufacturer must demonstrate compliance with all certification standards,’’ it said.

“As we have said in the past, the aircraft will return to service only after the FAA is satisfied that all safety-related issues are addressed.”

Boeing said in a statement that it remained in discussions with the FAA on the wire bundles.

“Regardless of the final determination on this matter our estimate for a mid-year return to service of the MAX is unchanged,’’ it said.

Almost 800 MAX aircraft are currently on the ground, including about 370 planes grounded last March after two fatal accidents killed 346 people.

FAA administrator Steve Dickson told reporters in London recently that a long-awaited certification flight for the MAX could take place within weeks.

He said he believed international air safety regulators were likely to agree on design fixes to return the plane to service.