Boeing 737 MAX could get clearance for January return: regulator

The Boeing 737 MAX could be returning to the skies in less than three months.

The head of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) told Reuters that regulators could approve the beleaguered airplane to return to service in January. The 737 MAX was grounded globally over safety concerns following two deadly crashes in the last year.

"For me it is going to be the beginning of next year, if everything goes well. As far as we know today, we have planned for our flight tests to take place in mid-December which means decisions on a return to service for January, on our side," EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said.

FILE - In this May 8, 2019, file photo a Boeing 737 MAX 8 jetliner being built for Turkish Airlines takes off on a test flight in Renton, Wash. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has not indicated when the jetliner may begin flying again.

"The FAA is following a thorough process, not a prescribed timeline, for returning the Boeing 737 MAX to passenger service," the agency said last week. "The agency will lift the grounding order only after we have determined the aircraft is safe."

Sales have dropped significantly since crashes in October 2018 and March 2019, with only one sale of the 737 MAX to come in since then.

In addition, United announced it will ground all 737 MAX flights through the New Year, a decision that will greatly affect the travel holiday season. Over 8,000 scheduled flights will be impacted by United’s decision.