Boeing's software update to the 737 Max 8 was reportedly delayed more than a month because of the government shutdown

Boeing 737 MAX 8 Southwest AirlinesSouthwest Airlines

Following the first crash of its 737 Max 8 plane in October, Boeing was working on a software update to fix a "safety feature" designed to pitch the plane's nose down to avoid a stall

The company said following the latest crash of the same aircraft on Sunday, the second in less than five months, that it has been working on enhancement stop the flight control software "for the past several months."

That effort was complicated, however, by the 35-day government shutdown that ended in February, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

With all but the most essential staff - air-traffic controllers and safety oversight workers, for example - on furlough, the software fix was delayed by five weeks, US officials told the Paper, from their original expected delivery date of January.

Eventually, the FAA okayed the delayed, because Boeing and other experts saw no immediate safety threat, another source told the Journal.

That changed on Sunday, when Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed shortly after takeoff, killing all 157 on board. It' was the second crash of a 737 Max 8 in less than five months, and prompted a majority of the world's countries - but not the US or Canada - to ban the plane from their airports and airspace.

Read more: Everything we know about Ethiopian Airlines' deadly crash of a Boeing 737 Max 8, the second disaster involving the plane in 5 months

Lawmakers have called on the FAA to follow suit, but as of Tuesday, the agency was standing by its decision to continue to allow the plane to fly. The US-based carriers that operate the plane, Southwest, American, and United, were also standing by their fleet.

"The FAA says it anticipates mandating this software enhancement with an Airworthiness Directive (AD) no later than April," Boeing said. "We have worked with the FAA in development of this software enhancement."

More on Boeing's 737 Max 8 and the Ethiopian Airlines disaster:

Get the latest Boeing stock price here.

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