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European regulators demand changes to 737 Max autopilot

They're not just concerned about the safety systems.
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Stephen Brashear/Getty Images

It's not just American officials who think Boeing's 737 Max software needs more polish. A Bloomberg source said that the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has told Boeing to make five changes to the airliner before it can return to service. They're mostly consistent with the FAA's requests, including improvements to the angle of attack sensors, training, manual trim controls and a software flaw linked to a lagging chip. However, the EU regulators also want Boeing to address a previously unmentioned issue with the autopilot failing to switch off in some emergencies -- it might not give pilots enough time to prevent a stall.

EASA wasn't initially ready to comment. The FAA didn't comment on its European counterpart's work, but did say it was continuing to "work closely" with other civil aviation authorities to ensure the 737 Max is safe to fly.

The additional concern could lead to a significant delay for any fixes. Bloomberg had already heard that a fix for previous concerns would take up to three months. A correction to autopilot might add to that wait, and that's assuming government bodies are satisfied with the changes once they're ready. There's a real chance that the 737 Max won't fly again for a long while. Not that many will necessarily mind. Regulatory overseers are determined to prevent a repeat of the two fatal 737 Max crashes, no matter how long it takes, and passengers will want assurances that incidents like those can't happen again.

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