Aerospace giant Boeing wants to deliver its 737 Max aircraft to airlines before 2019 ends, even if the Federal Aviation Administration has not approved analogous pilot training, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Boeing said Monday it anticipates resuming 737 MAX deliveries in December and beginning the process of validating pilot training in January. The company completed step one of five toward getting the aircraft back in the skies last week. Step one was a multi-day eCab simulator evaluation with the FAA to ensure the overall software system performed its intended function, both normally and in the presence of system failures.
The 737 Max, the best-selling aircraft in the company's history, has been grounded since March after two crashes less than six months apart that killed 346 people.
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It looks like there could be a delay between FAA lifting the flight ban on the 737 Max and approving new training for pilots, the Journal reported.
"The FAA is following a thorough process for returning the Boeing 737 Max to passenger service," the FAA said in a statement to FOX Business when asked about the report. "We continue to work with other international aviation safety regulators to review the proposed changes to the aircraft. Our first priority is safety, and we have set no timeframe for when the work will be completed."
The earliest that the 737 Max could once again carry passengers is in January, although that timing would be tight as the pilot training approval process has many steps including a public comment period.
"Subject to strict regulatory approval, we continue to complete key milestones that put us on a path to certification of the MAX in December, with training approved in January, paving the way for the safe return of the MAX to commercial service," a Boeing spokesman told FOX Business on Monday.
Airlines like American do not anticipate putting customers on the 737 Max until March.
"Based on the latest guidance, American anticipates that the resumption of scheduled commercial service on American's fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will occur March 5, 2020," American Airlines said last week. "Once the aircraft is certified, American expects to run exhibition flights, or flights for American team members and invited guests only, prior to March 5."
Boeing will have room to park the 737 Max jets it's making for about two more months, and is looking into other storage options, a person familiar with the process told the Journal.
When the Boeing 737 Max gets cleared to return to service, airlines that have had to juggle schedules and equipment may be facing oversupply, analysts say.