Boeing has pushed back its estimations for a return to service of the 737 MAX to mid-2020, confirming that the plane will remain on the ground for well over a year in total.
An updated statement by the American aircraft manufacturer was published on Tuesday, shortly after business news broadcaster CNBC reported that Boeing’s most troubled jet won’t return to service before ‘June or July’.
Trading of the company’s shares was temporarily suspended, although it has since resumed.
Previously, several airlines, including United Airlines and Southwest, had removed the 737 MAX from their flight schedules until early-June, while Boeing continued to state that the aircraft would resume service in the first quarter of 2020. Following the updated announcement by the manufacturer, Westjet Airlines from Canada removed the aircraft from its schedule until June 24.
The 737 MAX has been grounded by worldwide regulators and the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) since March last year, following two deadly crashes in March 2019 and October 2018. The key reason behind both these crashes, which also led regulators to grounding the type, is a system called MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), which malfunctioned due to an erroneous sensor input, and forced the aircraft into a dive.
In order to receive a re-certification, Boeing has to make severe changes to this system on the 737 MAX. In May 2019, the company initially claimed it has submitted a fix to the FAA for review. It was later found to be insufficient. During the grounding and close inspection of the aircraft type, further issues and complications were found, pushing the estimations for a safe return to service back step by step. Just this month, a potential wiring problem was found on the 737 MAX.
The FAA, which is facing criticism for certifying the aircraft type in the first place, has repeatedly said that it will ‘take its time’ on approving the 737 MAX for a return to commercial service.
In December last year, Boeing fired its Chief Executive Officer Dennis A. Muilenburg in what was called a ‘resignation’. On January 13th, David L. Calhoun took over control as CEO of the company.
Jakob Wert is an aviation journalist from Germany. He built up the website IFN.news and is the Editor-In-Chief of International Flight Network.