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TUI Airways Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplane grounded. Photo: NurPhoto / Contributor/Getty Images

The Federal Aviation Administration has uncovered a possible new risk in the Boeing 737 MAX after a series of simulator flights, sources familiar with the issue revealed to Reuters.

Details: In simulator tests for Boeing's latest software fix, government pilots realized that a microprocessor complication could result in the nose of the plane being thrust downward. It remains unknown whether this played a part in one or both of the 737 MAX crashes.

  • Sources indicated that Boeing engineers are trying to gauge if reprogramming the software would present a solution, or if it's necessary to restore the microprocessors on each 737 MAX aircraft, CNN reports.

Why it matters: This latest FAA discovery could delay the 737 MAX's return to flight service. The aircraft has been grounded since March after two crashes resulted in 346 fatalities. Early investigative reports indicate that a new stabilization system known as MCAS pushed the noses of both planes sharply toward the ground. Boeing has announced a software fix that might limit the negative impact of MCAS, per CNN.

  • An FAA spokesperson told CNN that its investigation "is designed to discover and highlight potential risks," and that they "recently found a potential risk that Boeing is required to mitigate."

What's next: Boeing isn't planning on another certification test flight until July 8 at the earliest, sources told Reuters.

Go deeper

Updated 35 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.
3 hours ago - Health

Standardized testing becomes another pandemic victim

Photo: Edmund D. Fountain for The Washington Post via Getty

National standardized reading and math tests have been pushed from next year to 2022, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) announced Wednesday.

Why it matters: There’s mounting national evidence that students are suffering major setbacks this year, with a surge in the number of failing grades.

3 hours ago - World

European countries extend lockdowns

A medical worker takes a COVID-19 throat swab sample at the Berlin-Brandenburg Airport. Photo by Maja Hitij via Getty

Recent spikes in COVID-19 infections across Europe have led authorities to extend restrictions ahead of the holiday season.

Why it matters: "Relaxing too fast and too much is a risk for a third wave after Christmas," said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.