How the government shutdown reportedly stopped Boeing from fixing its 737 MAX planes

Max 737 jet.
(Image credit: Christopher Furlong /Getty Images)

Boeing reportedly thought it would have a software fix for its 737 MAX by January.

But the repair didn't arrive until Monday, after a Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplane had crashed and killed all 157 people onboard. That's because Boeing's disagreements with the Federal Aviation Administration kept delaying the repair — and its discussions with the FAA stopped altogether during the five-week government shutdown, The Wall Street Journal reports.

One of Boeing's new 737 MAX aircrafts crashed after takeoff in October, killing all 189 people onboard. After Sunday's takeoff crash, reports surfaced showing that pilots had major safety concerns about the aircraft model's autopilot system, specifically during takeoff sequences. The FAA issued a warning about the issue and, as it explained in a Monday press release, spent "several months" working on a "flight control software enhancement for the 737 MAX."

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But as the Journal details, the only reason that fix took so long was that "differences of opinion about technical and engineering issues" between FAA and Boeing officials "dragged on." Boeing also stopped working on the software for five weeks during the government shutdown, U.S. officials said. Both FAA and Boeing experts didn't push it because they concluded "there was no imminent safety threat," the Journal continues.

Both the FAA and Boeing defended the model's safety until agreeing with President Trump on Wednesday to ground all 737 MAX 8 and 9's in the U.S. The FAA still has no official administrator, with Dan Elwell serving as its acting head for more than a year.

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