Boeing Co told airlines and suppliers on Tuesday it now forecasts it does not expect to win approval from regulators for the return of the 737 MAX to service until June or July.
The announcement reflects the challenges facing the company in its effort to persuade regulators that the Max is ready to fly. Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration have continued to find new flaws with the Max that go beyond an automated software system known as MCAS.
Boeing said it has informed airlines and suppliers of the new estimate, which is longer than previous forecasts and also takes into account new anticipated pilot training requirements.
“Returning the Max safely to service is our No. 1 priority, and we are confident that will happen,” the company said in a statement. “We acknowledge and regret the continued difficulties that the grounding of the 737 Max has presented to our customers, our regulators, our suppliers and the flying public.”
Reuters reported last week that regulators had been pushing back the time needed to approve the plane, which was most recently expected to happen in February or March, a year after the jetliner was grounded worldwide.
Based on regulatory approval in the first quarter, the three U.S. airlines that operate the 737 MAX – American Airlines Group Inc, United Airlines Holdings Inc and Southwest Airlines Co – were scheduling MAX flights in early June. They will now likely have to extend the timeline again. They have said it could take at least 30 days to resume flights following U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approval because of the time needed to ready the planes and train pilots.
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