Boeing says MAX won’t return until mid-2020

Company says getting MAX flying is "number one priority" while CEO said previously that restoring trust in the company comes second.

Boeing has been hit by the double whammy of the grounding of its 737 MAX following two crashes that killed 346 people and the COVID-19 virus. It's trying to restore confidence in both the passenger sector and with its own customers.(PHOTO: Shutterstock)

American plane maker Boeing said its crisis-hit 737 MAX jet will likely remain grounded worldwide at least until mid-2020 as the company works to convince global regulators, airline customers and the flying public that the plane, which suffered two crashes killing 346 people, is safe to fly.

The company issued a statement Tuesday (21 January), saying Boeing recognised “the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and other global regulators will determine when the 737 MAX returns to service”, a statement made necessary by previous missteps by the company’s former CEO Dennis Muilenburg, who was criticised by the FAA for trying to force the agency’s hand in approving the MAX’s return to flight.

The company added: “We are informing our customers and suppliers that we are currently estimating that the ungrounding of the 737 MAX will begin during mid-2020. 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.”

Protestors calling on Boeing executives to be prosecuted for their roles in two crashes that killed 346 people. (PHOTO: Shutterstock)

Boeing said in its statement “returning the MAX safely to service is our number one priority, and we are confident that will happen. 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.”

Boeing said it would provide additional information when it announces its quarterly financial disclosures, which is scheduled for 29 January.

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Matthew Driskill is the Editor of Asian Aviation and is based in Singapore. He has been an Asia-based journalist and content producer since 1990 for outlets including Reuters and the International Herald Tribune/New York Times and is a former president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong. He frequently appears on international broadcast outlets like CNN, Al Jazeera and the BBC and has taught journalism at Hong Kong University and the American University of Paris. Driskill has received awards from the Associated Press for Investigative Reporting and Business Writing and in 1989 was named the John J. McCloy Fellow by the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York where he earned his Master's Degree.


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