After weeks of assessing concerns about the placement of wiring bundles in 737 Max airplanes, Boeing has submitted its initial recommendation to the FAA for how to resolve the issue. Sources say Boeing believes it does not need to modify the wiring bundles nor move their location within the plane.
Technical staff with the FAA and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency have raised questions about the potential for the wiring bundles to short-circuit. In a worst-case scenario that could lead to a crash if pilots did not handle the situation correctly.
Boeing declined to comment on the exact recommendation made for resolving the issue.
"Safety continues to be the FAA's top priority," the FAA said in a statement. "We will rigorously evaluate Boeing's proposal to address a recently discovered wiring issue with the 737 MAX. The manufacturer must demonstrate compliance with all certification standards. As we have said in the past, the aircraft will be cleared for return to passenger service only after the FAA is satisfied that all safety-related issues are addressed."
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson and his staff will review Boeing's proposal and discuss it with engineers before issuing a decision on what should happen next. Earlier this month in London, Dickson told reporters he expected to make a decision on the wiring issue within the next few weeks.
Boeing said any modifications that may be needed for Max wiring bundles will not change the company's estimate for the plane returning to service by the middle of the year.
The 737 Max has been grounded since March after two fatal crashes — in Indonesia in October 2018 and in Ethiopia less than five months later — killed all 346 people on the two flights.
While regulators and Boeing work on resolving the remaining issues with the Max that still need to be fixed, United Airlines has pushed back the date when it expects to put the planes back into service.
United said it has pulled the Max from its schedule until Sept. 4. On Thursday, Southwest Airlines, which operates more Max planes than any other airline, announced it will not be flying the plane until Aug. 10.