Boeing on Tuesday announced that it’s now estimating its troubled 737 Max aircraft won’t fly again until at least mid-2020, a delay from the earlier January 2020 time frame. The newly announced delay means that the 737 Max will have been grounded for at least a year, regardless of when it returns to flight.
The news was issued as a press release on Boeing’s website, and the company says it will be informing customers and suppliers of the revised timeline. The new window is in line with a previously revised estimate from the US airlines that fly the 737 Max, each of which had pushed back commercial flights using the plane until at least June.
“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,” the press release reads. “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.”
Boeing and its 737 Max airplane, its bestselling model to date, have been embroiled in a constant state of crisis for nearly a year, since the model was grounded following two fatal crashes that resulted in the deaths of 346 people.
Investigators continue to find additional faults with the plane, including an all-new software glitch (separate from the MCAS flight control system responsible for last year’s fatal crashes) that affects the power-up process for the onboard flight computers, according to The Wall Street Journal. The Federal Aviation Administration is also still waiting to conduct a crucial certification flight that would help unground the plane, while pilot training requirements and manuals are still pending review as well.
Boeing continued to make 737 Max airplanes after its grounding in March 2018. But in December of last year, Boeing announced plans to indefinitely halt 737 Max production at its Renton, Washington manufacturing plant. Just this week, the company announced that it had officially halted production.