You're not Boeing to believe this: Yet another show-stopping software bug found in ill-fated 737 Max airplanes

Jetliner's return to the skies likely to be delayed by more tech glitches

Boeing today said another software flaw has been spotted in its star-crossed 737 Max.

The bug was found during an audit of the passenger jet's on-board technology, held last weekend with America's aviation regulator. These technical reviews are expected to turn up glitches and gremlins for Boeing engineers to fix, so this is kinda to be expected.

The Seattle-based manufacturer told The Register on Friday it was working with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to straighten out the bug. The 737 Max is unlikely to return to the skies until the flaw is addressed.

"We are making necessary updates and working with the FAA on submission of this change, and keeping our customers and suppliers informed," a spokesperson said in a canned statement. "Our highest priority is ensuring the 737 Max is safe and meets all regulatory requirements before it returns to service."

So far, the airliner maker is providing little else in the way of details or descriptions of the issue. So take the following with a pinch of salt.

From what we can tell, and according to ABC News, which cited sources familiar with the case, two of the flight computers stopped communicating with each other during the aircraft's start-up sequence, which normally takes place when the plane is on the ground. This disrupted the power-on monitoring systems. Boeing had just added code to allow the two flight computers to talk to each other – previously they operated more or less independently.

GE's 747 testbed March 10, 1999, testing an engine for the Canadair CRJ-700/-900. Credit: GE Aviation

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The audit needs to be completed before the FAA can take the updated 737 Max on a test flight, and ultimately certify it to fly again with passengers. The airliner family was grounded after 346 people died in two crashes, in Ethiopia and Indonesia, likely due to their Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation Systems (MCAS) going awry from dodgy sensor data.

This latest setback comes just days after the release of documents showing that Boeing employees had grave concerns internally about the safety of the plane, but still opted to push the FAA and other regulators not to require special simulator training for pilots in order to get the Max into service faster.

The entire fleet of Max airliners has been formally grounded by Boeing since March of last year after aviation bods around the world began to ban it from flying over their airspace. ®

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