The Boeing Company’s 737 MAX aircraft will reportedly return to the skies as early as late June, sources close to the matter say.
Reuters reported Friday that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) “expects to approve” the Boeing 737 MAX by as early as late June, after a closed-door meeting between the US aircraft regulator and the United Nations’ aviation agency on Thursday.
FAA and Boeing officials privately briefed members of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) governing council in Montreal on the 737 MAX on Thursday, the same day that the FAA’s acting administrator Dan Elwell met with more than 30 international air regulators for eight hours in Fort Worth, Texas.
The meetings followed Boeing’s completion of its a software update for its MCAS system, following its implication in two deadly crashes involving the jet.
In separate reports, however, deputy FAA administrator Dan Elwell has said the aircraft regulator does not have a specific timeline for approval of the 737 MAX.
“It’s a constant give and take until it is exactly right,” Elwell told Reuters. “It’s taking as long as it takes to be right,” he said, adding: “I’m not tied to a timetable.”
The aircraft has been grounded internationally since early March, after two devastating crashes occurred within the space of six months, killing a combined 346 people.
Since then, it has been discovered that the 737 MAX’s MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) software was implicated in both crashes, prompting an update by the manufacturer that was finished two weeks ago, awaiting approval by the FAA.
“We appreciate the FAA’s leadership in taking this important step in bringing global regulators together to share information and discuss the safe return to service of the 737 MAX,” Boeing said in a statement.
“Our team, our airline customers, and regulators place the highest priority on the safety of the flying public.
“Once we have addressed the information requests from the FAA, we will be ready to schedule a certification test flight and submit final certification documentation.”
The news of Boeing’s re-certification came amid reports of another lawsuit submitted against the manufacturer by the family of a deceased victim of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 in a US federal district court.
If successful, the suit would award a minimum in the form of a punishment to Boeing of US$276 million ($400 million) – a figure arrived at by dividing Boeing’s 2018 profit of approximately US$101 billion ($146 billion) by 346 (the total number of people who died in both crashes), according to multiple media reports.