Boeing announced on Tuesday that it is targeting the return of the grounded 737 MAX airplanes to the sky for mid-2020.
“We are informing our customers and suppliers that we are currently estimating that the ungrounding of the 737 MAX will begin during mid-2020,” the company said in a statement.
In 2018, all 346 people on board the two flights- a Lion Air 737 MAX 8, and the same model operated by Ethiopian Airlines in March- were killed in the crashes, causing worldwide grounding of Boeing MAX jets. The planemaker had suspended production of these jets, shifting its focus to deliver 400 of them kept in storage in December.
“It (updated estimate) 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,” Boeing added.
The company’s 777X is set to undertake its first flight on Thursday. “After years of design and testing, it’s almost time to fly. The 777X will make its first flight as early as January 23, subject to weather and other factors,” the company said.
The 777X flight initially had been planned for summer 2019 but was shifted back due to a number of issues, including with a new engine built by General Electric. In September 2019, the fuselage of the aircraft reportedly split during a stress test, pushing the flight date.