The Boeing 737 Max has been grounded worldwide since early March, after a second deadly crash killed 157 people on an Ethiopian Airlines flight. But Boeing is scrambling to fix software issues believed to have caused that crash and an October incident in Indonesia, and there are finally signs of when the plane may fly again.
Federal Aviation Administration officials have privately told international regulators that the plane may be cleared to return as soon as late June, anonymous sources told Reuters. It's the first indication of when the troubled plane may be able to resume flights.
Boeing said last week that it had updated a software system believed to have caused both crashes. The software, meant to prevent a stall, has been a central focus in the investigations and criticism of the plane because it would automatically pull the nose of the plane down – even based on a faulty reading of how high the plane was angled upward.
The plane still needs many hours of certification flights before it's cleared for takeoff.
Just three U.S. airlines use the Boeing 737 Max: United, Southwest, and American Airlines. But its absence has put a financial squeeze on them.
And all three carriers have already pulled the planes from their flight schedules until at least early July. Southwest and American Airlines both don’t plan to fly the plane again until at least August.
Worldwide, there are even more questions about when the Boeing 737 Max will return. Airlines across the globe have 387 of the planes in their fleets.
Meanwhile, the FAA hasn't publicly commented on when it expects to see the plane return to U.S. skies.
“The last thing I want is to put a date out there and then to have anybody, either the FAA, or you or the public drive to the date instead of the end result or the process,” the FAA’s acting administrator Dan Elwell told Reuters.
With a software fix complete, it's likely only a matter of time before we see the Boeing 737 Max back in flight. We'll let you decide whether that's a good or bad thing.
Lead photo courtesy of Victor via Flickr