Last month, more than 100 planes belonging to 24 Airlines worldwide were grounded again after a possible electrical problem was discovered. Many more new aircraft deliveries have been halted. Boeing and the US regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration, have stated that they are working together to resolve the issue.
However, the incident has reawakened critics who argue that the 737 Max was reintroduced to service too soon. The problems that may have led to two fatal accidents were not thoroughly investigated or addressed. Among the critics is Ed Pierson, a well-known whistleblower. He has already attempted to connect allegedly weak quality standards at the 737 factories to electrical faults on the crashed aircraft, which he says could have been involved in both accidents.
According to Boeing and FAA, the issue was discovered during the testing of a newly produced 737 Max 8. It had yet to be shipped to its owner. The aircraft’s electrical control systems were found to be malfunctioning. Weak electrical bonding was the source of the problem, with panel assemblies that were both intended to conduct electricity and form part of a link with the aircraft’s frame failing to do so effectively.
This meant that some of the plane’s parts, such as the pilots’ main instrument panel and a standby power control unit, were not adequately grounded or earthed. The FAA says, “affect the operation of certain systems, including engine ice protection, and result in loss of critical functions and multiple simultaneous flight deck effects, which may prevent continued safe flight and landing”.