It's more bad news for the Max: the jet may well be grounded until early next year, later than guidance Boeing is providing to customers. Boeing's confidence in the software fix is beginning to look unconvincing.
Boeing Co.’s 737 Max may stay grounded until early 2020, the Wall Street Journal reported, months later than the guidance the planemaker is privately providing customers for resolving a software issue that surfaced last month.
The plane is expected to start flying again in January 2020 “under the latest scenario,” the Journal said, citing unidentified sources within the Federal Aviation Administration and pilot-union leaders. The situation is “fluid” and no firm timeline has been established, the newspaper said.
On Sunday, American Airlines Group Inc. said it would keep the jet off its schedule through Nov. 2, the fifth time the airline has adjusted its flights to accommodate the Max’s lengthening absence. United Airlines Holdings Inc. this week also removed the 737 Max from its schedule through early November.
Aviation regulators grounded the newest 737 after two crashes involving the plane killed 346 people. On June 26, FAA disclosed a separate software glitch that surfaced as Boeing tested a theoretical flight-control computer failure at the FAA’s request. That issue requires an additional patch by Boeing that will be included in the final package of flight-control software to be reviewed by global regulators before the Max is clear for flight.
“Boeing will not offer the 737 Max for certification by the FAA until we have satisfied all requirements for certification of the MAX and its safe return to service,” the company said in a statement at the time.
Once the global grounding is lifted, U.S. airlines have said they will need several weeks to prepare stored aircraft to resume commercial operations and potentially train pilots.
(Updates with a Boeing statement in penultimate paragraph.)
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Photo credit: Boeing 737 Max jets near Boeing Field in Seattle on June 27. Stephen Brashear / Getty Images