- REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson
- Boeing does not expect the 737 Max to return before June or July, according to a new CNBC report. Boeing confirmed it is looking at a mid-2020 timeline.
- The company previously expected the plane to return sooner.
- Airlines have already pulled the jet from their schedules until early June, although that timeline could be extended.
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Boeing doesn’t expect regulators to sign off on its fixed 737 Max until at least June or July, according to a report by CNBC.
Boeing confirmed in a statement that its current estimates are that “the ungrounding of the 737 Max will begin during mid-2020.”
The early summer date is months later than Boeing previously expected, CNBC said, citing sources “familiar with the matter.” The plane maker had initially expected the plane to remain on the ground for just a short period following the March, 2019 crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.
Boeing warned that the estimated return timeline not definite:
This updated estimate is informed by our experience to date with the certification process. It is subject to our ongoing attempts to address known schedule risks and further developments that may arise in connection with the certification process. It also accounts for the rigorous scrutiny that regulatory authorities are rightly applying at every step of their review of the 737 MAX’s flight control system and the Joint Operations Evaluation Board process which determines pilot training requirements.
The new date expectations pose another challenge for airlines, who have been forced to adjust their flight schedules and equipment plans just a few months at a time repeatedly since the grounding, as Boeing has continued to offer and subsequently fail to meet optimistic timelines.
American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and American Airlines – the three US carriers that currently have the Max in their fleets – have all most recently pulled the planes from their schedules through early June. Hundreds of flights have been cancelled daily due to the plane’s inoperability, most weeks ahead of scheduled travel.
Shares of Boeing fell more than 5.5% in afternoon trading following the news, reaching a year-long low before trading was suspended pending Boeing’s official announcement.
The 737 Max grounding has been a significant drain on Boeing’s finances, with the plane-maker taking billions of dollars in charges towards compensating airline customers for the grounding. Boeing is in talks with banks to secure at least $10 billion in loans to help absorb the expenses from the crisis.
Production of the plane was officially suspended on Tuesday, as the grounding has led to a pileup of completed but undeliverable planes at Boeing’s facilities.
Crashes involving the 737 Max in Indonesia in October 2018, and Ethiopia in March 2019, killed a combined 346 people.
Both crashes have been attributed to an automated flight control system, MCAS, or the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System. The two crashes killed a combined 346 people.
Reports into the two crashes that led to the grounding indicate that the automated MCAS software erroneously engaged and forced the planes’ noses downward. Pilots were unable to regain control of the aircraft.
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